PIERRE Henderson-Niles believes he will neutralize June Mar Fajardo the way he stopped Greg Slaughter as Rain or Shine takes on San Miguel Beer in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals starting on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The burly Elasto Painters import clearly shackled Slaughter, who had ranked on top of the statistical points standings after the elimination round where he averaged 18.5 points on 52.7 percent shooting, 9.7 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in 10 games.
But the Ginebra star slotman was held to just 12 points on 47.8 percent shooting, seven boards, and .5 block in the Gin Kings’ two quarterfinal losses to the Elasto Painters.
And the 6-foot-8 Henderson-Niles likewise looks to cancel out Fajardo starting in Game One of the best-of-five series that tips off at 5 p.m.
“Hell yeah,” Henderson-Niles said after practice on Saturday. “Everybody was talking about that big guy, Greg. He was soft. So we’re going to see what this battle (against Fajardo) is about.”
Fajardo has been the biggest difference in the E-Painters’ last two semifinal losses to the Beermen.
“Not this year,” Henderson-Niles beamed. “They’re going to have a problem.”
“He’s got to guard me, too,” he added. “It’s hard guarding me. I know I can guard any player in the league. We’ll see how it’s going to turn out.”
The E-Painters lost to the Beermen in the Governors’ Cup semifinals where they had undersized Wendell Mckines as reinforcement, and in the Philippine Cup Final Four where Fajardo wreaked havoc.
“We got a better team (this conference), a better big man, a bigger big man, a stronger big man,” Henderson-Niles said.
ROS coach Yeng Guiao is hoping Henderson-Niles lives up to his word.
“There are some things that are different now: we have a big man as an import,” Guiao said. “We’re hoping our perennial matchup problem with Fajardo is less emphasized in this series.”
“Every time that we play San Miguel, we’ve always had problems with their size, so we’re hoping that size differential is not as big a factor now when we have Henderson-Niles,” he added.
The E-Painters beat the Beermen, 108-105, in the elimination round even when wing-thriving Mo Charlo was still their import.