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SHOWDOWN IN PERIL

Much-awaited Christmas match-up between Cebuanos Fajardo, Slaughter may not happen

By: - Correspondent / @ForgetAbouJay
/ 07:49 AM December 24, 2013

The much-awaited Christmas showdown between Barangay Ginebra’s rookie Greg Slaughter and Petron’s June Mar Fajardo may not happen after all.

This after Fajardo suffered a knee injury during their practice yesterday at the Reyes Gym.

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According to a report that was posted on Spin.ph, the 6-foot-10 native of Pinamungajan banged knees with teammate Ronald Tubid near the end of their practice and fell down immediately. He was taken to the hospital, where he is currently undergoing a thorough examination.

This recent development dampens the Christmas plans of basketball fans who were excited to see the much-awaited clash between Fajardo, nicknamed “The Kraken” and this year’s top draft pick, Greg “Gregzilla” Slaughter.

The game between Fajardo’s Petron Blaze and Slaughter’s Ginebra San Miguel will be played tomorrow with both sister teams looking to break free from a 7-1 (win-loss) tie at the top of the team standings.

The clash was expected to be a renewal of their rivalry, which dates back to their playing days in the Cesafi, where Fajardo suited up for the University of Cebu (UC) and Slaughter donned the colors of the University of the Visayas (UV) Green Lancers.

CLASSIC BIG MAN RIVALRY

If former PBA great Elmer “Boy” Cabahug is to be believed, the PBA just might be seeing a modern-day giant-sized match-up that has the makings of becoming a classic rivalry just like one that typified the golden age of the pivot men back in the 1980s.

The former UV head coach could not help himself from comparing this forthcoming encounter to the memorable duels between PBA legends Ramon Fernandez and Abet Guidaben.

Like Slaughter and Fajardo, Fernandez and Guidaben also started their collegiate careers in Cebu. Fernandez starred for the University of San Carlos while Guidaben was the anchor of the University of San Jose-Recoletos. The duo then went on to forge successful pro careers with Guidaben donning the colors of the Crispa Redmanizers oftentimes becoming the foil to Fernandez’s Toyota Super Corollas.

And though both Fajardo and Slaughter are still in their early years in the league, Cabahug said both players have the tools to become dominant centers, just like Fernandez and Guidaben, who shares six Most Valuable Player awards between them.

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Slaughter arrived at the Colon St. campus of the Green Lancers in 2007, out of shape, barely able to catch a ball. However, with the diligent supervision of his coaches, namely Cabahug and another PBA great in Al Solis, Slaughter slowly developed his low-post game, which slowly became the yin to Fajardo’s yang.

“When he first got here, I just really wanted him to focus on defense. We didn’t need him to score, especially since we had other big men like Ariel Mepana (a former Alaska Ace), Rino Berame (played in the PBL) and Michael Luga,” said Cabahug.

A few blocks away, Fajardo arrived at the Cebu Coliseum in basically the same boat as Slaughter – with neither any evidence of game savvy nor any hint of forthcoming greatness in his lean and wiry 6-foot-9 frame.

“When he first got to UC, he had a lot to learn about basketball. But he had the shooting skills already. He shot a lot in practice,” said former UC guard, Lawrence Agas.

“I think it will be a good match-up now because June Mar and Greg have improved a lot. Way back in Cebu, Greg was better than June Mar but we’ll see na lang this Christmas what will happen,” said former UV guard Chris Diputado.

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