by Tito S. Talao
Manila, Philippines – Chalk one up for Junmar Fajardo over Greg Slaughter even before the Clash of the Titans takes place in the 39th season of the Philippine Basketball Association.
With the multi-region inaugurals still nearly two weeks away and the maiden showdown between Petron Blaze and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the Philippine Cup yet to be scheduled, Fajardo, the Boosters’ No. 1 pick last year, nevertheless scored early in the battle of comparisons even without showing up with his hulking 6-foot-10 frame.
And that’s because the 6-foot-11 Slaughter did – in a tuneup with Rain or Shine yesterday at the Ronac Gym in San Juan, which allowed Elasto Painters coach Yeng Guiao and wide-bodied center Beau Belga to size up the Kings’ top draft this year.
“He has a lot of work to do. He’s not like a Junmar Fajardo na mas mobile. So I think Greg has to work on his mobility,” said Guiao.
Belga, who will be guarding both Fajardo and Slaughter once the season unfolds, placed his money squarely on the Petron sophomore.
“Pare sa akin, mas bilib pa rin ako sa bata kong si Junmar,” said Belga, a teammate of Fajardo’s at Gilas Pilipinas. “Malayo ang agwat nilang dalawa.”
Belga, who knows a little about top-of-the-key 3-pointers, said Fajardo has a better outside shot and has more post moves than Slaughter.
“Mas magaling din dumepensa si Junmar,” Belga added.
Guiao and Belga may have been more partial in their choice since Fajardo played a key role in Petron ousting Rain or Shine during the Governors’ Cup semifinal series recently. Back-to-back MVP winner Danny Ildefonso also had ample time to mentor Fajardo on the intricacies of the low post play.
On the other hand, Freddie Abuda, a four-time All-Defensive Team member and now an assistant at Ginebra, only started working on Slaughter after Sunday’s Annual Rookie Draft at Robinson’s Place in Ermita, and will need as much time as Ildefonso to transform Slaughter into more appreciable commodity in the eyes of opposing coaches and big men.
Slaughter was far from being a disappointment though in his debut with the Kings.
He had 12 points and a number of unaccounted rebounds and shot blocks as Ginebra held off Rain or Shine, 95-90.