By Ivan Saldajeno
QUEZON CITY--One of the main highlights of the PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals is the first match-up between beanpoles Greg Slaughter and Junemar Fajardo in the pro league finals.
The clash in the middle between the seven-foot Slaughter and the 6-foot-10 Fajardo in a championship series has been anticipated by PBA fans ever since both were drafted first overall in their respective draft classes.
But more especially, the Cebuanos have been waiting for this to happen after nine years.
The rivalry between the two centers can be dated back to their days in CESAFI, and it reached boiling point during the 2009 finals, where Slaughter and the UV Green Lancers faced off with Fajardo and the UC Webmasters. The Lancers needed four games to beat the Webmasters then.
But that turned out to be the freezing point too as Slaughter transferred to Ateneo De Manila the following year, paving the way for Fajardo and UC to capture the next two CESAFI crowns.
Now that the battle of the bigs has already reached Philippine basketball's grandest stage, Slaughter on Tuesday at the Sambokojin Restaurant in Eastwood still expects his match-up with Fajardo to be a grind-out.
"It's definitely a tough match-up. It's another obstacle to overcome," the Ginebra center said.
However, both behemoths somehow downplayed their individual match-up, saying that helping San Miguel and Ginebra to the championship is what matters for them.
"The team that he plays for is the challenge. I'm looking forward to a big challenge in San Miguel," said Slaughter. "I'm not making this about personal match-ups. I'm making this about team match-ups because at the end of the day, we're trying to win the championship."
|For Greg Slaughter, it's all about team effort, not on who among him and Junemar Fajardo will prevail inside. Dennis Acosta|
"Gusto kong matulungan yung team ko," Fajardo, in a separate interview, then quipped.
Also, they think they are evenly matched.
"It's hard to say," Slaughter said when asked what his edge over Fajardo will be.
"Parang square lang. Wala naman akong masasabing [advantage sa kanya]. Parang pareho lang kami ni Greg," Fajardo said.
|He may be the reigning four-time MVP, but Junemar Fajardo thinks he is evenly matched with Greg Slaughter. Dennis Acosta|
Their first finals showdown in the pros will begin on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno