#FIBAOQT: Baldwin expects 'intelligent' Slaughter to diversify approach, help Gilas

(Image from FIBA)
*This first appeared on FIBA.com.

The Philippines may have a late bloomer in Greg Slaughter, a 27-year-old center that national team coach Tab Baldwin has spoken highly of in recent days.

The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel star has yet to feature for the senior national team but his coming out party in international basketball could happen in July, when Gilas host a six-team FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Manila. There are also OQTs to be played in Turin, Italy, and Belgrade, Serbia.

The 2.16m Slaughter was handpicked last October by Baldwin for the 17-man player pool, one that he will use to select his OQT squad from. The coach, who has talked about the Ohio-born, Virginia-raised Slaughter to InterAksyon.com, foresees a big leap in quality once he begins to get national team games under his belt.

A photo posted by Gregory Slaughter (@gregslaughter) on

"He gets out there and works in the games," Baldwin said. "I think Greg is an intelligent guy. He will learn."

Slaughter was in the preliminary squad for the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship but was not on the final roster. He also was not with Gilas in 2014, when they played at the FIBA Basketball World Cup, or at last year's FIBA Asia Championship. He knows many of the national team players well.

Playing in the Philippines, Baldwin says that Slaughter is able to use his size to overpower opponents. But the coach warns he will have to come up with new ways of attacking in the international game.

"He has to learn to play the game less like a real big man and more like a basketball player. In the Philippines, you’ll get away with being real big. You are real big because that’s enough. He’s got very good skills. He could score." - Baldwin

"But on the next level, he's going to find out speed and quickness are going to be against him. He'll have to figure out ways to get to his skillset when he's got super talented, super quick, super long defensive players in front of him."

Even without Slaughter, the Philippines proved to be formidable opposition for all of the opponents they had at the World Cup in Spain. They had five close games and got a victory over Senegal.

Having additional size would nevertheless help Gilas. Last year they had Andray Blatche while the year before, former NBA man Blatche and giant center June Mar Fajardo were in the World Cup squad.

The Philippines will play in Group B against France and New Zealand and a top two finish would put them into a Semi-Final against Canada, Senegal or Turkey from Group A. The winners of the two Semi-Finals will play for a spot in the Olympics.




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