MANILA, Philippines – Just as Barangay Ginebra begins the more grueling part of its bid for a third straight PBA Governors' Cup championship, it is slowly gaining its full power with the return of its key cogs.
Greg Slaughter and Sol Mercado came back from their respective injuries to inject a much-needed shot in the arm for the Gin Kings as the playoffs of the season-conference near.
Slaughter saw action again following a near-two-month absence caused by an ankle injury, while Mercado played his first game off a knee injury to power Ginebra to a 93-86 win over Magnolia on Sunday, October 29.
"I feel good," Slaughter, who delivered 11 points and 9 rebounds, told reporters after the win.
"I feel like I can get better, too, so I'll just take it one game at a time, keep our goal in mind. We want to win this championship."
The 7-footer played in the Gin Kings' first 3 games before going down with an ankle injury he suffered against NorthPort in September. He was sidelined for 5 games.
Mercado, on the other hand, had a relatively successful debut in the conference with 9 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists in more than 23 minutes of play.
"It's good to be back. It felt really good to be back out there. It felt like I was out for a long time," Mercado said.
"It felt good to contribute. I just took the shots that were given to me. Felt like I was open and luckily I knocked 'em down."
Although undermanned for much of the conference, the Gin Kings still managed to pile up wins to book a ticket to the quarterfinals and secure a twice-to-beat incentive.
"[W]e've been able to take care of business with me and Sol's absence and we were able to get good seeding. So fortunately, I didn't have to hurry back and spent a little time getting my body stronger," Slaughter added.
With Slaughter and Mercado back in the fold, Ginebra (8-2) shoots for the No. 1 ranking when it meets TNT next Sunday, November 4, at the Araneta Coliseum. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.