Gregzilla suits up for NorthPort

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

After sitting out two games to get familiar with coach Pido Jarencios system, Greg Slaughter is ready to make his NorthPort debut against San Miguel Beer in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig this Sunday. Slaughter began showing up for practice last week and was in civvies behind the Batang Pier bench when NorthPort clobbered Phoenix, 115-79, the other day.

I am truly excited for this new adventure and for the next chapter in my story to begin,” said Slaughter in his Instagram account. “I still have my best basketball ahead of me. I have so much left to give the game and just as blessed as ever to play the game I love in front of all the fans who have been with me through it all, no matter what jersey I wear. Pinapangako ko sa inyo na hindi ko kayo bibiguin.”

NorthPort PBA governor Erick Arejola confirmed Slaughters availability to play. “At last, hell play and hopefully, he can adjust right away,” he said. “Im happy on how the team bounced back after a very bad start last Friday during our opening game (an 85-63 loss to Meralco). The team met after that to discuss their commitment on the system of our coaches and they showed it during our game against Phoenix. They played team basketball, both on offense and defense. That was the first time we beat Phoenix in the Philippine Cup. The next challenge is for us to be consistent.”

Arejola debunked speculation that Slaughter is on the trading block. “Not true yan,” he said, affirming that NorthPort is focused on the 7-foot center to shore up the middle. With Slaughter, NorthPort is expected to go full blast in recovering from a lowly 1-10 record in last years bubble conference where the team was last in free throw percentage, No. 9 in offense, No. 10 in field goal percentage and No. 9 in fastbreak points. In the offseason, NorthPort brought in rookies Jaime Malonzo and Troy Rike and veterans Slaughter, Sidney Onwubere, Jerrick Balanza, Clint Doliguez and Jeepy Faundo. The team has also reactivated Robert Bolick and Jonathan Grey while relegating LA Revilla, Jervy Cruz and Sean Manganti to its 3x3 lineup.

After San Miguel, Slaughter will face Ginebra on Friday, July 30, then Magnolia on Sunday, Aug. 1. So the road ahead wont be easy. But if NorthPorts romp over Phoenix is an indication, the outlook is bright for the Batang Pier. Jarencios bombers knocked down 17 triples, the second most in franchise history and Rikes six treys were the most by a rookie since Ray Parks and Paul Desiderio had six apiece in the 2019 Governors Cup. Rike finished with 20 points and Malonzo 15, marking the first time this season a rookie scored in double figures. The contest showcased improvements in key statistical departments from the bubble conferencefield goal percentage from 39.8 to 50, three-point conversions from 10.4 to 17, assists from 19.7 to 25 and rebounding from 47.5 to 61. As Arejola said, to be consistent is the next challenge.

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