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Dream face-off: Fajardo vs Slaughter


June Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter said their first-ever faceoff in the PBA Finals will bring back memories of their old battles in Cebu City when the two gentle giants were labeled as the future stars of Philippine basketball.

The Commissioner’s Cup Finals meeting will mark the first time they’ll play for a title since 2009 when Slaughter led University of the Visayas to a 3-1 win over Fajardo and University of Cebu in the Cebu Schools Athletic Federation Inc. (CESAFI) championship series.

“This is the first time we get to square off in the PBA Finals so it brings back good memories of our home in Cebu,” Slaughter said.
While eager to avenge that loss, Fajardo was more reflective of how far he and his long-time rival and buddy have gone.

“It’s hard to imagine that we would reach this point,” Fajardo said in Filipino. “We’re blessed to be in this situation. I’m sure Greg will give his best and I will definitely give my best in the series.”

Seeing the faceoff in the paint is one of the subplots in a series that will feature two talent-laden squads that overcame flat starts to reach the PBA’s grandest stage.

The Fajardo-Slaughter finals duel is long overdue, given Slaughter’s history of injuries that marred the first five years of his PBA career.

Slaughter was still recovering from a knee injury in 2017 when Fajardo and the Beermen beat Ginebra, 4-1, in the Philippine Cup Finals.

But Slaughter later that year played a role in spoiling Fajardo’s bid for a Grand Slam when Ginebra slammed the door shut on San Miguel in the Governors’ Cup quarterfinals. The Kings later won the title with Slaughter being named Best Player of the Conference.