PETRON Blaze’s June Mar Fajardo, the No. 1 pick overall in this year’s PBA Draft, will make his much-awaited PBA debut on Wednesday against reigning Governors Cup titlist Rain or Shine.
At the 6-foot-10, 273 pounds and 22 years old, Fajardo is the tallest, heaviest, and youngest player in the league right now. He will have his baptism of fire in the pros against the Elasto Painters’ ‘Extra Rice Incorporated’ of Beau Belga and Fajardo’s Cebuano kababayan JR Quinahan. Larry Rodriguez and Jervy Cruz will also be there to lend a hand against the PBA’s most celebrated rookie big man since probably Asi Taulava who first saw action in the league in 1999 with Mobiline.
San Mig Coffee head coach Tim Cone compares Fajardo’s entry in the PBA to the time when Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul Jabbar) first joined the NBA in 1969.
While saying Fajardo will be starting right away, new Petron Blaze head coach Olsen Racela says the Boosters will not rush their big guy to live up to his potential.
Besides, the Boosters have a bunch of frontline talent around Fajardo with the likes of Arwind Santos, Jay Washington, Danny Ildefonso and Dorian Pena. Magi Sison is also there.
So how will (or how did, if you read this after Wednesday) Fajardo fare in his first game as a pro?
How will his numbers compare with the PBA debuts of the other league giants at least 6-foot-8 who came before him? Will it be as earthshaking as Asi Taulava’s or Marlou Aquino’s first games? Will it be so-so like Japeth Aguilar's? Or will it end in a whimper?
Here are the first game numbers of the players standing at least 6-8 who entered the PBA starting in 1996 -- and they are only seven (I would’ve wanted to include 7-1 EJ Feihl on this list but most of the data I have is from 1996 to present and Feihl turned pro in 1995):
6-10 JAPETH AGUILAR
10 pts, 2-of-6 FGs, 6-of-10 FTs, 9 rebs, 2 asts, 1 blk (in 24 mins)
Burger King 80, Purefoods 93 2009-10 Philippine Cup (October 11)
6-8 SAMIGUE EMAN
5 pts, 1-of-4 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs, 3 rebs, 2 blks (in 9 mins)
Magnolia 121, Air21 112 2007-08 Philippine Cup (October 14)
6-8 RAFI REAVIS
14 pts, 7-of-7 FGs, 4 rebs, 2 asts (in 15 mins)
Coca-Cola 110, FedEx 82 2002 Commissioner’s Cup (June 18)
6-9 YANCY DE OCAMPO
2 pts, 1-of-3 FGs, 6 rebs (in 18 mins)
FedEx 62, Coca-Cola 66 2002 Governors Cup (February 10)
6-9 ASI TAULAVA
32 pts, 15-of-25 FGs, 2-of-7 FTs, 20 rebs, 8 asts, 2 blks, 1 stl (in 43 mins)
Mobiline 90, Tanduay 64 1999 All-Filipino Cup (February 7)
6-10 1/2 ANDY SEIGLE
20 pts, 8-of-13 FGs, 4-of-7 FTs, 9 rebs, 2 ast, 4 blks, 2 stls (in 38 mins)
Mobiline 91, Alaska 100 1997 All-Filipino Cup (February 16)
6-9 MARLOU AQUINO
29 pts, 11-of-21 FGs, 7-of-9 FTs, 15 rebs, 5 asts, 5 blks, 1 stl (in 39 mins)
Ginebra San Miguel 94, Pepsi Mega 98 1996 All-Filipino Cup (February 20)