IT was supposed to be the match-up of the year pitting two of the biggest players to set foot on a PBA floor.
With June Mar Fajardo out, Greg Slaughter turned it into a one-man show.
The 6-11 Ginebra rookie threw his weight around as Barangay Ginebra gave its legion of fans a lot to smile about on Christmas day by routing Petron, 97-83, to move to the top of the leaderboard in the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup at a packed Mall of Asia Arena.
With an injured Fajardo in uniform but left to watch from the Petron bench, Slaughter was simply unstoppable inside as he scored 17 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had two blocks to set the tone for the most anticipated game of the season which Ginebra turned into a mismatch.
"At the start of the game, dahil wala si June Mar, parang nag-relax kami. But I told them to stick to our game plan," said Ginebra coach Ato Agustin. "I always remind them na whether he (Fajardo) plays or not, kailangan yung game plan natin ma-execute."
Japeth Aguilar added 25 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks while Mark Caguioa, Mac Baracael, and Chris Ellis also grabbed their share of the limelight before a crowd of 20,448 fans, who saw how a previously dominant Petron team can be so vulnerable without the 6-10 Fajardo.
Fajardo sat out the game after getting injured in practice on Monday.
Not surprisingly, it was Slaughter who made the biggest impact when Ginebra pulled away for good with a brief but telling run early in the fourth quarter on the way to its eighth win in nine games.
During that stretch, Slaughter scored four points against a smaller but physical Doug Kramer, grabbed two rebounds, and blocked one shot to help open an 83-68 edge for Ginebra.
Caguioa, who had 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting in his best game since coming down with a flu, added a runner and an alley-oop basket to turn the game into a full-blown rout, 91-72, with 4:10 remaining.
Reigning MVP Arwind Santos scored 22 points as he valiantly tried to carry the load for Petron, now 7-2 (win-loss) after dropping its second straight game.
Ginebra 97 - Aguilar 25, Caguioa 18, Slaughter 17, Baracael 11, Ellis 8, Reyes 7, Urbiztondo 7, Monfort 3, Forrester 1, Ababou 0, Helterbrand 0, Tenorio 0, Faundo 0.
Petron 83 - Santos 22, Lutz 15, Ross 14, Kramer 11, Cabagnot 7, Lassiter 5, Lanete 4, Hubalde 4, Taha 1, Duncil 0, Tubid 0, Deutchman 0.
Quarterscores: 28-19, 47-42, 71-63, 97-83