JUNE Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter have officially become teammates after the two were named to the final 12 of Team Pilipinas in the Fiba Basketball World Cup Asian qualifiers match on Friday against Kazakhstan.
The two were included in the final roster of national coach Yeng Guiao in an announcement made on Wednesday, two days before the match against Kazakhstan.
Fajardo and Slaughter have been opponents since their Cesafi days in Cebu with Fajardo playing for University of Cebu, and Slaughter with University of Visayas. In the PBA, Fajardo has been the dominant big man for San Miguel, while Slaughter has been the resident center of Barangay Ginebra.
Now, the two are on the same team with Gilas facing Kazakhstan at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday as both teams resume their bid for a slot in the 2019 Fiba Basketball World Cup.
“It’s cool,” Slaughter said. “June Mar was one of the first people I ever met out here in the Philippines back in 2007 even. Just to imagine 11 years later that we will be playing together side-by-side on the national team, it’s like a dream come true.
“I’m really excited and I hope we can make our country proud,” said Slaughter.
The feeling is mutual for Fajardo.
“Excited kami pareho ni Greg,” said the four-time PBA Most Valuable Player. “Kailangan naming mag-trabaho kasi nga malaki ‘yung responsibilidad namin doon. Gagawin namin lahat para maka-contribute sa team.”
Fajardo and Slaughter will be pitting up against a Kazakhstan team with an average height of 6-foot-5. Based on the previous line-ups of the squad, Denis Degtyarev, Alexandr Zhigulin, and Ruslan Aitkali are the tallest at 6-foot-8.
“We can't take any chances. We can’t take any team for granted. No matter who they put in front of us, we have to bring our 100 percent. We have to treat every team like it's a do-or-die game,” said Slaughter.