Fajardo vs Slaughter on Christmas
By WAYLON GALVEZ
Manila, Philippines – Christmas Day will mark the first-ever PBA showdown between Greg Slaughter and June Mar Fajardo as sister teams Barangay Ginebra and Petron Blaze dispute the solo lead at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 7-foot Slaughter, the promising Ginebra rookie, and the 6-foot-10 Fajardo, Petron’s upstart center, have wage a lot of epic battles in the past but tomorrow’s encounter will give a large audience a chance to witness them square off.
“Medyo excited din na maka-harap uli sya,” said Fajardo when contacted by the Bulletin yesterday.
It’s been two years since Slaughter and Fajardo met on the hardcourt.
Their last duel came on Dec. 5, 2011 when Slaughter’s Ateneo Blue Eagles rolled past Fajardo’s University of Cebu, 100-53, in the semifinals of the Philippine Collegiate Champions League at The Arena in San Juan.
Slaughter won their final collegiate battle, scoring 18 points and 11 rebounds while Fajardo played just 14 minutes because of an injury and managed to make just 12 markers.
But Cebuanos could recall more grueling battles than that December afternoon.
The two met numerous times in the Cebu’s top collegiate cage league Cebu Schools Athletic Federation, Inc. (CESAFI) with Slaughter’s University of the Visayas Green Lancers prevailing over Fajardo’s UC Webmasters to win the 2009 crown.
Both later made the pros, with Fajardo arriving first as the top pick of Petron in the 2012 draft before Slaughter was also selected No. 1 overall by Ginebra last month.
When he entered the league last season, PBA fans nicknamed Fajardo the “Kraken”, a monstrous sea creature in Greek mythology. League followers then dubbed Slaughter as “Gregzilla” after the Japanese character Godzilla.
The two players are averaging double-double figures so far in the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup, with Fajardo nearly collecting 15 points and a league-best 17 rebounds per game for Petron while Slaughter has 13 points and 12 boards for Ginebra.
Not only will Slaughter and Fajardo face off for the first time in the PBA, The two squads are tied for first at 7-1 and the winner will gain sole possession of the lead in the season-opening conference.
“Ang focus naman namin is matulungan yung teams namin na manalo. Talagang pinagha-handaan namin yung laban na yun,” said Fajardo.
“Espesyal din kasi ang pasko, first time ko lalaro ng pasko. Kung manalo maganda regalo sa team,” added Fajardo.
Slaughter feels the same thing.
“My thoughts are about getting a win so we can get that solo first place spot,” said Slaughter.