PETRON rookie June Mar Fajardo and Ateneo center Greg Slaughter, two celebrated big men owing to their size and skill, are not yet ripe for big international events like the Fiba-Asia men’s championships, according to former national coach Rajko Toroman.
While insisting he was not trying to put down Smart Gilas 2.0 coach Chot Reyes’ efforts to beef up the national squad for next year’s Fiba Asia men’s in Beirut, Toroman said he believes Fajardo and Slaughter have a long way to go before they can hold their own against against Asia’s best big men.
The 6-10 Fajardo and Slaughter, 6-11, are two of the big men Reyes hopes to recruit to beef up a Gilas team that won the Jones Cup and finished fourth in the Fiba Asia Cup during the PBA offseason.
“In my opinion, June Mar isn’t ready yet (for Fiba-Asia). Even Greg isn’t ready for that yet,” Toroman, told Spin.ph as he sat on ringside watching a PBA game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Toroman said both big men, though dominant in college because of their size, still have a lot to work on as far as quickness and agility is concerned.
“Both June Mar and Greg have to improve on their quickness. International play is very different. So they really need to work on quickness drills and agility,” added Toroman, currently serving as Petron’s team consultant.
Before becoming this year’s PBA top rookie pick, Fajardo played for the San Miguel Beermen in the Asean Basketball League (ABL) last season.
The Pinamungajan, Cebu native is coming off a big game against San Mig Coffee on Sunday night where his tremendous potential came in full display. He finished with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and a 4-of-7 clip from the foul line to go with 13 rebounds, three steals, and a block shot.
He also provided the highlight clip of the night, throwing down a two-handed follow-up dunk off a Chris Lutz miss against San Mig big men Rafi Reavis and Yancy de Ocampo.
“He (Fajardo) is slowly picking up the game now. Nakita na ng tao kung ano ang kaya niya," said Petron coach Olsen Racela after the 84-90 loss to San Mig.
"We’d like to build on that. We told him to just be patient. Take your time. And after our Rain or Shine and Barako Bull games, we told him, 'Huwag ka ma-frustrate dahil alam namin ano ang kaya mong gawin'.”
On the other hand, Slaughter, who fought many battles with Fajardo in the Cebu college circuit, marked his final year for the Blue Eagles with a UAAP championship.
Toroman said the upside for Fajardo at this point is his good work ethic.
“He has a very good attitude towards the game. He wants to keep improving. I always tell him to learn from the mistakes he commits during the game so he’ll get better,” added Toroman, who handled the Smart Gilas basketball program from 2009 to 2011.