Barangay Ginebra is paving a path to a dynastic future by pulling a page from its past.
The Gin Kings acquired NorthPort big man Christian Standhardinger for Greg Slaughter in a one-on-one swap that was reported a year ago, but was locked in the backburner, apparently because of a sabbatical that the Ginebra center took last year.
"He's a throwback to the Ginebra players of old," Ginebra coach Tim Cone said of Standhardinger hours after the trade was announced on Friday morning by the PBA after approval from its trade committee the night before. "I think the (Gin Kings') fans will appreciate his style of play."
The Inquirer reported the trade in February last year, citing it as one of the reasons Slaughter decided to take a sabbatical from the league. Slaughter flew to the United States but eventually mended fences with San Miguel Corp. top bosses, who signed him to a fresh contract before finally dealing him to the Batang Pier.
"[Christian's] strengths will fit well with what Ginebra needs as a team," said Cone, a two-time Grand Slam mentor who now has a major piece to push for a third triple crown feat.
In Standhardinger, Ginebra gains a premier interior player with impeccable motor and basketball IQ, whose PBA career was preceded by multiple tours of duty with the national team.
The Gin Kings also hiked its scoring options, adding to a closer in Stanley Pringle, the PBA bubble's best player and another high-motor, high-IQ talent in Scottie Thompson. The addition of Standhardinger gives Thompson a glass-cleaning partner and, with Japeth Aguilar, turns Ginebra into a fearsome rebounding squad.
Standhardinger averaged 20 points and 12 rebounds in the Philippine Cup last year while Slaughter was in sabbatical. Slaughter averaged 9.6 points and 6.4 rebounds in his last full season with Ginebra. But NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio is looking beyond numbers.
"We need someone big who can dominate inside and at the same time, intimidate other players," Jarencio said.
Jarencio reminded everyone that the Batang Pier went 9-2 in a conference with import Prince Ibeh, who couldn't shoot but could dominate the paint with his size.
"Give him the ball under the rim and nobody can stop him. We finished as one of the top teams with a big guy who couldn't shoot," Jarencio said.
He hopes to do the same with Slaughter.
"Yes, we had the same opportunity with a 6-foot-8 guy in Christian, but we're talking about a 7-footer this time around. It's just hard to let that chance slip."
Two other SMC squads also revamped their rosters to gun for the championship. San Miguel Beer acquired bubble top scorer CJ Perez from Terrafirma and Magnolia took in Calvin Abueva from Phoenix.
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