JUNE Mar Fajardo may have had the last laugh against Greg Slaughter on Sunday night, but the San Miguel Beer center was dead serious when he noted the improvements in his Barangay Ginebra counterpart’s game in SMB’s 107-103 win over the Gin Kings in the PBA Governors’ Cup.
The longtime Cebuano rivals squared off for the first time since last year’s Commissioner’s Cup or when Slaughter was last healthy before suffering a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) that sidelined him for almost a year.
“Ganda ng nilaro niya pagbalik niya this conference, nado-dominate niya yung paint,” Fajardo said. “Buti nakabalik na siya at nakalaro na ulit siya.”
“Marami pa kaming games na paglalabanan kasi magtatagal pa kami sa liga,” he added. “Buti nanalo kami ngayon.”
Slaughter registered 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting and seven boards in only 22 minutes, while Fajardo, hobbled by fouls, was limited to just 10 points on 5-of-12 shooting, although he collected 15 boards and came out with the win.
“Magaling naman sya dati eh. Ngayon, mas lumakas pa sya at lumapad,” Fajardo continued of Slaughter. “Mas madali pa sa kanya maka-score. Natalo niya ako sa scoring pero nanalo naman kami.”
Like Slaughter, Fajardo bared that he’s finally back in top shape after hurting his calf muscle that caused him to miss the early part of Gilas Pilipinas’ campaign in the Fiba Asia Cup.
“Wala na akong iniinda. Healthy na ako,” the reigning MVP said. “Nag-struggle lang ako sa opensa pero bumabawi na lang ako sa depensa. Marami pang bagay na pwede ako makatulong.
“Credit talaga sa teammates ko,” he added. “Nag-step up sila Chris Ross, Marcio, Alex, consistent si Arwind. Ang laking bagay ng import namin. Hopefully, magtuloy-tuloy na.”
And Fajardo is also hoping that new import Terrence Watson is the right fit for the grand slam-seeking side ahead of the bigger battles.
“Magaling yung import namin. Ang simple nya maglaro pero effective,” Fajardo said. “Sana magtuloy-tuloy na.”
“Di ganoon kadali, pero susubukan namin makapasok sa top four,” he added. “Kailangan namin ipanalo remaining games namin.”