June Mar Fajardo fit to go in first season match-up with longtime rival Slaughter
June Mar Fajardo has missed two previous showdowns against Greg Slaughter due to injury. Jerome Ascano

IN the weeks leading up to his most-anticipated matchup against Ginebra’s Greg Slaughter, San Miguel Beer star center June Mar Fajardo has already taken the necessary steps to stay healthy and in tip-top shape.

Fajardo, who had a busy offseason schedule owing to his stint with Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba World Cup and the Asian Games, has been religiously training with the team’s physiotherapist Gerald Tenorio at the Sante Impact System in Ortigas after practice.

Tenorio said Fajardo has battled aches and pain in his body and legs, mostly due to the physical rigors of the Beermen’s 5-1 start this season.

“Conditioning lang si June Mar, pero kung meron man, tightness lang  na inaagapan lang agad kasi medyo bugbog din siya nung offseason saka sa mga banggaan (in the PBA),” Tenorio told Spin.ph on Saturday.

But the soft-spoken San Miguel physiotherapist said other than that, the Beermen big man is ready to go and bang bodies with Slaughter, his chief rival since their collegiate days in Cebu.

“Ready to go na si June Mar,” he added.

Sunday’s keenly-awaited showdown between the PBA’s two young centers will just be the second in two seasons, owing to injuries Fajardo battled during last season’s first two conferences.

The supposed first matchup should have taken place in last year’s Christmas Day game, but Fajardo suffered an MCL sprain on his knee during practice. The Gin Kings clobbered the Beermen, then known as the Petron Blaze Boosters, 97-83.

The second aborted showdown happened on March 9 when Fajardo opened the Commissioner’s Cup with a badly swollen right ankle.

The Beermen, however, won that game handily, 112-96, behind import Josh Boone’s 32 points and 21 rebounds.

In the Governors Cup, a healthy Fajardo finally clashed with the 6-foot-11 Slaughter, though both big men cancelled each other out.

Slaughter had 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead Ginebra to a 105-98 win, while the 6-10 Fajardo scored 23 points and grabbed 14 boards before fouling out in the endgame. 

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