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Just like old times for Fajardo, Slaughter

June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer has overtaken Greg Slaughter of Ginebra in the race for the Best Player of the Conference award entering the playoffs of the Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup.

The 6-foot-10 Fajardo, aiming to become the first player in PBA history to win three consecutive Most Valuable Player honors, has accumulated 45.6 Statistical Points at the end of the elimination round against the 7-foot Slaughter’s 45.3 points.

Fajardo averaged 23.1 points, 14.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks to help the defending champion San Miguel Beermen claim one of the two outright semifinals berths with a 9-2 record.

But Slaughter averaged 23.5 points, 15.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.4 blocks. His team is 7-4 and is in fourth place.

Should Slaughter and Ginebra survive the grueling quarterfinals where they have to beat two teams to make the semis, expect the two natives of Cebu to wage an epic showdown for the BPC award.

It’s also possible their teams could meet in the finals.

That would intensify the rivalry that began in 2007 when the Fil-American Slaughter was a promising rookie at University of the Visayas and Fajardo was playing for the University of Cebu.

Ginebra will face Cone’s former team Star with a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals which starts on Christmas Day at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Should the Kings prevail, they will face the winner of either Globalport or Barako Bull in a one-game faceoff for berth in a best-of-seven semis series against the Alaska Aces, who tied the Beermen at 9-2 but earned the top seed because of a tiebreaker.

A distant third in the BPC race is NLEX’s Sean Anthony, who compiled 37.4 SPs after posting 20.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists in the most productive conference of his career. Acquired from Meralco in an offseason trade, Anthony had a career-high 37 points in the Road Warriors’ stunning 111-106 victory over Rain or Shine last Saturday, denying the Elasto Painters an outright semis berth.

Rounding out the top five is Anthony’s veteran teammate Asi Taulava with 35.9 SPs and Globalport’s Stanley Pringle with 37.3 SPs.

Taulava averaged 19.7 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists while Pringle posted 21.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists for the Batang Pier, who carries a twice-to-beat advantage against the Energy.

Completing the Top 10 in the BPC race are Willy Wilson of Barako Bull (35.6), Alaska’s Vic Manuel (33.7), Talk ’N Text’s Jayson Castro (33.0), Terrence Romeo of Globalport (32.9) and SMB’s Arwind Santos (32.55).

The other playoff matchups are Rain or Shine against first-timer Blackwater and Talk ‘N Text opposite NLEX.

The semifinal round – a best-of-seven affair – will start Jan. 4, 2016 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.