GINEBRA rookie center Greg Slaughter came away impressed with the way former college rival June Mar Fajardo played against him during their first showdown in the pro league in the game pitting the PBA All-Stars against the Gilas Pilipinas squad on Sunday.
Though a mere exhibition match, Slaughter, who was voted by fans to start for the All-Star Selection, made sure the Gilas squad worked for every basket during the showpiece match that served as the highlight of the annual PBA All-Star festivities at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 6-11 Ginebra freshman center had his highlight moment when he blocked a fadeaway attempt by Fajardo in the waning minutes of the third period, but he came away from the match impressed with the improvements in his fellow Cebuano's game.
Slaughter said Fajardo has certainly grown tougher physically while getting more comfortable with his shots inside the paint.
“Definitely (Fajardo grew stronger). And he’s just more comfortable with his touch, his shot and everything. We’re both still young, so looking for more showdowns in the future,” said Slaughter at the end of the All-Star game which Gilas won, 101-93, against the PBA All-Stars.
Slaughter, who withdrew from the Gilas pool, led the All-Stars with 11 points, 10 rebounds, one block and one assist in 26 minutes in his first face-off with Fajardo after two previous duels in the pro league were aborted owing to injuries suffered by the San Miguel big man.
“When that opportunity comes, then I’m sure, it will really be fun,” he said. “I almost ended up playing with him (Fajardo) in Cebu, coz I almost went to the same school and same with Gilas, but maybe down the road.”
As for their personal rivalry, the top pick overall of this season's draft said there will be more battles to come.
“June Mar is a big guy. We’ve been doing this (matchup) a lot (in college), but this won’t be our last,” Slaughter said.