June Mar Fajardo misses rivalry against Greg Slaughter

Mar 12, 2018

San Miguel star June Mar Fajardo is longing to see the resumption of his rivalry with Greg Slaughter that was once again halted after the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel center missed the first two games of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series due to an ankle injury.

Fajardo and Slaughter, who have gained mutual respect since their rivalry began when they were college foes in Cebu, have met in only eight of the possible 26 games owing to a number of injuries the latter sustained since he was drafted first overall by Ginebra in the 2013 draft.

Slaughter, who sustained the injury during practice that prompted him to also miss three games against Rain or Shine in the eliminations and quarterfinals, remains day-to-day but many have anticipated his return sometime during the series.

A Slaughter return is something Fajardo, whose San Miguel squad holds a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven affair, hopes to see in the immediate future.

"Nakakamiss kasi di kami madalas naglalaban," said Fajardo, who as a University of Cebu star first met Slaughter as a University of the Visayas standout in the Cebu Schools Athletic Federation Inc. (CESAFI) in the late-2000s. "Di naman talaga maiiwasan yung injury. Dati nung healthy siya, ako naman ang na-injured pero ganun talaga."

Interestingly, a knee injury sustained by Fajardo delayed their first PBA face-off on Christmas Day in 2013 that saw Slaughter producing 17 points and eight rebounds in Ginebra's 97-83 win over the then-Petron Blaze Boosters at the Mall of Asia Arena.

It wasn't until the 2014 Governors' Cup when the two star centers met in an official PBA game, with Slaughter finishing with 19 points and 11 rebounds in leading Ginebra to a 108-95 victory over San Miguel at the Philsports Arena. Fajardo had 23 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks in that contest.

They battled five more times in the next two years before Slaughter sustained an ACL injury in the 2016 Governors' Cup, to begin a streak of 13 straight San Miguel-Ginebra matchups with the fancied center matchup.

Slaughter made his return in last season's Governors' Cup and faced Fajardo twice, including Ginebra's quarterfinal win that ended San Miguel's quest for a grand slam.

However, a hamstring problem forced Slaughter to sit out Ginebra's 100-96 win over San Miguel last Jan. 28.

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Despite Slaughter's series of injury problems, Fajardo is confident that their battle in the paint would eventually be a norm rather than a rarity.

"Marami pa kaming games na paglalabanan, so sa ngayon sana pagaling siya dahil kailangan siya ng team niya," Fajardo said.(JT)