By TITO S. TALAO
The task of mentoring 7-foot rookie Greg Slaughter on the not-too-subtle ways of the Philippine Basketball Association has been assigned to four-time All-Defensive team member and 12-year pro veteran Freddie Abuda.
Robert Non, Ginebra representative to the PBA board, said Abuda, twice a Defensive Player of the Year, along with current Kings forward Billy Mamaril, will take Slaughter, the Kings’ No. 1 pick overall, under their wings as per management’s instruction.
“I’m sure Greg will learn a lot from Freddie’s long experience in the PBA, especially on the defensive end,” said Non, San Miguel Corporation’s basketball operations chief. “Si Billy, makakatulong din. At least meron nang nakatutok agad.”
Abuda says the job won’t be too pain-staking owing to Slaughter’s advanced education.
“Maganda na ang basics ni Greg,” said Abuda, a member of nine PBA champion teams. “Tuloy lang yung praktis niya sa post. At siempre, kailangan din matuto siya ng konting gulang dito.”
Slaughter, instrumental in back-to-back UAAP championships for Ateneo, was welcomed onstage by Non and members of Ginebra, led by coach Ato Agustin, team manager Alfrancis Chua and 2007 MVP Mark Caguioa, who helped him put on a team jacket.
“I want to be the biggest and strongest player in the PBA,” he said when asked what part of his game he felt needed improvement. “And I’d be happy if I could do some of Tim Duncan’s moves.”
Fil-Canadian James Forrester, taken by Ginebra with the No. 4 pick in a trade with Barako Bull for Rico Maeirhofer and Willie Wilson, will have more celebrated figures to show him the ropes.
“James has two MVPs to teach him – Ato Agustin (1992) and Mark Caguioa,” said Non. “Sino pa ang mas magandang magturo, di ba?”
Both Slaughter and Forrester will have their baptism of fire when the PBA opens its 39th season on Nov. 17 in three separate venues – Smart Araneta Coliseum, New Cebu Coliseum, and University of Southern Philippines gym in Davao.
The Kings, who reached the finals of last year’s Commissioner’s Cup, face Governors’ Cup champion San Mig Coffee in a lone game at the Big Dome.
There the No. 1 and No. 4 rookie picks, both guaranteed a minimum of R180,000 as first round choices, will be graded early, along with their mentors, of course.