Greg Slaughter is thrilled to face old rival June Mar Fajardo for the first time in the PBA Finals after helping Barangay Ginebra arrange a seven-game duel with San Miguel for the Commissioner's Cup title.
Slaughter beat Fajardo in 2009 when the University of the Visayas completed its ninth straight CESAFI championship at the expense of University of Cebu. That meting turned out to be the last time the two giants would waged war in a finals series.
Injuries have prevented Slaughter from facing Fajardo in the 2017 Philippine Cup Finals when the Beermen rolled to a 4-1 series win over the Kings.
But the long wait came to an end after San Miguel dispatched Alaska and Ginebra finishing off Rain or Shine in the best-of-five semis that went four games.
Game 1 is set Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with the Fajardo-Slaughter duel among the subplots.
"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 after Ginebra's 96-94 win over Rain or Shine in Monday's Game 4 at the Big Dome.
"We were young then, 19, 18-year-olds playing in the finals against each other. We've come along and it's exciting to do that again," said Slaughter.
Their meetings in the pro ranks have been very minimal, with Slaughter sustaining multiple injuries since turning pro in 2013.
Fajardo has since won four PBA Most Valuable Player awards while Slaughter has shown he can be successful when healthy, having captured the Best Player of the Conference during Ginebra's run to the 2017 Governors' Cup title.
"It's good to just be able to face off on the largest stage, in the finals, where all the marbles count," said Slaughter as he looks to play in his second finals. "Looking forward to it."(JT)