Cebuanos June Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter have been rivals seen their glory days in Cebu while playing for University of Cebu and University of the Visayas, respectively in the CESAFI.
While Fajardo entered first in the 2012 PBA draft and was picked as the top overall pick of San Miguel, Slaughter followed through in the 2013 draft and was also a top pick by ironically San Miguel's sister team Barangay Ginebra.
And their rivalry was revived but every time their teams met, Fajardo will be sidelined with injuries that stopped people from witnessing the most popular rivalry in the PBA right now since the era of James Yap and Marc Caguioa.
San Miguel sophomore Fajardo is considered as the most dominant big men in the pro league right now as he earned the Philippine's Cup Best Player of the Conference in just his second year in the league after losing the Rookie of the Year Award to Alaska's Calvin Abueva.
But with Slaughter's arrival, Fajardo is expecting a tough treat from him.
During their college days, Slaughter have been dominating Fajardo as Slaughter earned three championship rings with the Green Lancers. But when Slaughter decided to transfer to Ateneo in his final year, Fajardo dominated the Cebu-based school wars as he helped the Webmasters to a two straight championships before signing with the San Miguel Beermen, who were then playing in the Asean Basketball League (ABL).
Slaughter And Fajardo old rivalry
The 6-foot-9 Fajardo admitted the Ginebra rookie usually gives him a hard time during games, perhaps because he is the only Filipino rival he has faced who stand taller than him.
No wonder the Pinamungahan, Cebu native considers his provincemate his biggest rival in more ways than one.
“Naiilang talaga ako na kalaban at tumira sa harap ni Greg. Ang laki kasi eh. Isa talaga siya sa pinakamatangkad (sa locals). Seven footer eh,” said Fajardo.
“Siya ang isa talaga sa biggest threats ko. Kasi malaki siya saka may galaw,” added the San Miguel star.
The soft-spoken giant also bared how he lost most of his head-to-head duels with Slaughter during their college days in Cebu, where the Slaughter’s University of the Visayas dominated Fajardo’s University of Cebu.
“Oo, lagi nga silang nanalo sa amin noon,” bared Fajardo.
Fajardo taking revenge in the pro league
We have been expecting for this rivalry but still we haven't seen the rivalry with our bare eyes and now is the time as Fajardo has fully recovered from his injury.
The rivalry enters a new phase when Fajardo and Slaughter clash for the first time in the PBA after two previous encounters failed to push through because of injuries to the San Miguel big man.
Fajardo will be playing for Gilas Pilipinas while Slaughter will banner the PBA All Stars Selection in the highlight of this year’s All-Star Weekend at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday.
This could not happen if Slaughter didn't withdrew from the Gilas pool along with Fajardo's teammate Marcio Lassiter.
“Oo, sana nga matuloy na,” said the 23-year-old Fajardo. “Sana wala nang ma-injure sa amin, para malaro namin ang game. Dami rin nag-aabang."
Asked if he is out to prove something in his maiden showdown with Slaughter, Fajardo said all he wants is to give fans an entertaining game.
"Basta ako maglalaro na lang," he said. "Sana maganda 'yung maging game namin, at maganda ipakita namin pareho para sumaya ang crowd."
With the arrival of the two giants in the first professianal league in Asia, expect that more fans will be watching every time this two Cebuanos go head-to-head with each other as they are destined to face each other.
Fajardo-Slaughter face off will finally happen in the 2014 PBA All-Star
Reviewed by Jay-R Bayon-on