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Slimmer, quicker Slaughter 'a real weapon' for Ginebra, says Cone

Greg Slaughter appeared visibly slimmer in Barangay Ginebra's winning debut in the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup against Alaska on Sunday.

Slaughter looked comfortable inside and in transition all night long to wind up with 16 points on 6-for-13 shooting and eight rebounds. He also swatted away two shots and was a plus-19 in just 26 minutes of play as the Kings cruised to a 102-83 win.

His last basket of the night even came on the fast break with 3:15 left in the game -- a one-handed flush off a dime from Scottie Thompson, who rewarded the big man for running the length of the court and rolling to the hoop right after contesting a shot on the other end.

"Greg is such in shape. He's two years removed from his ACL injury. He's got himself into good shape. He's moving up and down the floor. You saw him get down in transition and get that dunk. That was something he couldn't do a couple of conferences ago. He's actually playing really quick out there," head coach Tim Cone remarked after the game.

"If you had a chance to watch us play against LG (Sakers) and the Korean games, you'll see that Greg has been playing extremely well."

During the offseason, Slaughter said Cone talked to him a lot and "advised me to be more aggressive, look a little more for my shot, and be able to play defense now unlike I was able to play before."

"Coach has really given me a lot of confidence this conference," said Slaughter. "It's just more on building my habits now and gaining the confidence that I can do it now."

Over the break, Slaughter focused on improving his conditioning and shed around 35 pounds.

"Just a lot of work and a lot of change-up in my diet. It's always nice to have time off to do the work that you feel like you need. It's hard to come by those times, especially if you go deep into the playoffs. It's just being able to get my time to do my work and change my diet up a bit and just continuing it," he explained.

"Definitely feel better. Just got to get used to my new weight and build better habits with it and just keep listening to my coaches and follow their guidance."

Cone said Slaughter's newfound speed and agility -- paired with his sweet touch around the basket -- should give the Kings a lot more options on offense.

"A seven-footer that plays quick, that's a real weapon," said Cone. "He's not a June Mar (Fajardo) kind of guy who's gonna sit in the post and beat people up at the post. He's not that kind of guy. But he's really a movement player, he can shoot jumpers, and he can get to the basket off rolls and stuff like that.

"We're just kinda figuring that out now. We're using him a little differently than we've been using him in the past and he's responding very, very well. He's excited. He's excited about coming to practice every day, he's excited about coming to the game. He knows he's gonna play well."

Slaughter, meanwhile, is hoping to make the best of his improved physique by helping the Kings recapture the crown they won just two years ago.

"I just feel like I have more ability now. [I'll] give everything I can to the team. Takes effort from everyone of us to get to that championship and win it, so [I'm] doing all I can to contribute with my part," he said.

"[The goal is to] just win a championship. As long as we're winning, whatever coach needs me to do, I'm going to do it. That's what we always aim for and it's no different this conference. We've had a lot of success in this conference winning two championships, but it's not supposed to satisfy us. We want to win it again."