THE connection between Marc Pingris and June Mar Fajardo came naturally, their brotherhood one of the best bromances in Philippine basketball.
It started curiously. Pingris recounted the first time he met Fajardo wasn't even on the court but in a computer shop at Metrowalk in Pasig City where the 6-foot-11 Cebuano stood out like a sore thumb.
"Hindi ko pa rin siya kakilala noon. Naglalaro lang siya sa isang tabi. Actually, magkatalikuran nga lang kami eh," he recounted in an episode of Spin Zoom In.
It wasn't until Junjun Cabatu, a five-year PBA veteran and a mutual friend, made the introductions that the two linked up.
"Dumating si Jun na kaibigan namin, tapos pinakilala niya sa akin si June Mar. Doon na kami nagkakilala at doon na kami nag-start maglaro ng Dota," he shared.
The shared love for the online game Defense of the Ancients (DotA) drew the two closer that they soon became gaming buddies, meeting up every night just to play.
"Every night, nagte-text kaming tatlo kung pupunta kami ng Metrowalk. Doon na kami magkikita, doon na rin kami nagdi-dinner. Nagdo-Dota lang kami hanggang madaling araw," he said.
"Hanggang sa naisip namin na, 'Bro, bili na lang kaya tayo ng kanya-kanyang laptop para sa bahay na lang tayo at hapon pa lang naglalaro na tayo? Ganoon na kami," he said.
Not even a hard-fought championship series between Pingris' San Mig Coffee and Fajardo's Petron Blaze in the 2013 Governors' Cup could drive a wedge between the best of friends.
After the Coffee Mixers' seven-game triumph over the Blaze Boosters, Pingris even gifted Fajardo and Cabatu gaming laptops.
"Pag-champion ako, nagdo-donate ako sa kanila. Magkalaban pa kami ni June Mar noon, tapos ako yung nag-champion," he recalled. "Ganoon din naman siya nung nag-champion siya, pinakain niya ako sa Heat."
That bond became deeper when they became part of the Gilas Pilipinas lineup that won a silver medal in the 2013 Fiba Asia Championship here.
Pingris, however, believed that more than their shared passion for online games and on-court battles, what made their bond stronger was their closeness to their moms.
Both were self-proclaimed mama's boys.
"Nakuha namin yung ugali namin kasi parehas kaming mama's boy. Napakabait ni June Mar na tao," said Pingris. "Ako pa nga minsan ang nang-aaway pag may umaaway sa kanya. Kita mo, ang laking tao, ayaw makipag-away. So ako ang nagtatanggol sa kanya."
Even without their shared passions, Pingris believes that he'll always be drawn to a pure soul such as Fajardo.
"Ang daling pakisamahan ni June Mar kasi siya yung taong walang arte sa buhay. Kung ganoon kang tao, magiging close ka talaga sa kahit na sinong barkada."