Fajardo hurts knee; showdown with Slaughter reset
by Waylon Galvez
Games Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
5:45 p.m. – Air21 vs Globalport
8 p.m. – Ginebra vs Petron
Manila, Philippines – Love is in the air, particularly this Christmas Day.
That can’t be said though for sister teams and co-leaders Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Petron Blaze as they clash today in what should be an explosive encounter in the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Kings and the Boosters hold 7-1 cards.
Game time is at 8 p.m. after the 5:45 p.m. tiff between Air21 and Globalport. The Express (1-8) are on a three-game losing skid while the Batang Pier (4-4) are nursing an 83-80 loss to the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers last Friday.
This marks the 10th time in league history that the PBA will be playing on Christmas Day, starting in 2002 when Coca-Cola bagged the All-Filipino title in Game 4 of the best-of-five finals against Alaska.
Out of 10 Christmas Day games, Ginebra had played in seven and has won six. The last time the Kings played was during Game 3 of the Philippine Cup quarterfinals where they downed the Alaska Aces, 79-70.
Ginebra is fresh from a 96-89 triumph over the Aces last Saturday that extended its winning streak to four. LA Tenorio had a solid outing as he torched his former team with 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists in only 29 minutes of action.
The win improved the Kings’ record to 7-1.
A few hours later that Saturday night, the Boosters absorbed their first setback this conference, losing to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in overtime, 99-95, that snapped a string of seven straight wins.
The highly-anticipated match is actually spiced by the ‘marquee’ encounter between former college rivals in Cebu, 7-footer Greg Slaughter of Ginebra and 6-foot-10 June Mar Fajardo of Petron, which has generated interest from basketball fans as tickets have sold out few days before the game.
However, Fajardo, according to Petron coach Gee Abanilla, won’t be able to suite up because of a strained right knee suffered during the latter stage of the team’s practice session Monday afternoon.
“We’re still waiting for the official results, but he’s been ruled out to play,” said Abanilla yesterday.
“The good thing is that, I was told na hindi ganun ka-grabe ‘yung injury. June Mar won’t be needing surgery, he just needs to rest. Just the same, maga pa rin ‘yung tuhod nya. We still don’t know how many games he’ll be out; we’ll just wait for the official results,” Abanilla added.
Abanilla said Ginebra is playing its best basketball game at the moment and is strong in every position – from the backcourt to up front where the Twin Towers – Slaughter and high-leaping 6-foot-10 forward Japeth Aguilar – roam.