IN the short time that June Mar Fajardo has been in the pro league, the Petron rookie and San Mig forward Marc Pingris have had quite a history together.
The two big men fought a bruising battle during San Mig's 90-84 win over the Boosters on October 14 - a game which ended with this season's top rookie pick overall landing in the hospital for a groin injury that sidelined him for close to two months and forced slotman to sit out seven Petron games.
An accidental elbow from Pingris had actually caused the injury - something the San Mig bruiser had apologized for in a call to Fajardo as he lay on his hospital bed.
Close to two months later, the two big men, both healthy, meet for the first time since that incident with so much more on the line. The Mixers and the Boosters begin their battle for a place in the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals on Thursday, with San Mig enjoying twice-to-beat advantage.
Pingris, not surprisingly, is bracing for another scrap with the hulking Cebuano, who he described as a big man with decent moves in and around the basket.
"Kay June Mar, di ko alam, gagawin ko lang siguro trabaho ko," said the high-leaping Pingris. "Malaki kasi siya tapos may galaw. So iyun din ang paghandaan namin."
Fortunately for Pingris, he can expect a lot of help in trying to contain the 6-foot-9, 269-pound Fajardo. San Mig has one of the tallest and deepest frontlines in the league and, aside from Pingris, can throw the likes of Rafi Reavis, Joe de Vance, and the rejuvenated Yancy de Ocampo at Fajardo.
"Mabuti at nandiyan din si Yancy saka si Rafi,” said Pingris, San Mig's top rebounder this season with an 8.55 average to go with his 7.82 points a game.
Pingris said the seventh-seeded Boosters can't be taken lightly, even if they've had a struggling elimination-round campaign. “Petron naman kasi puro beterano na ito, malakas na team ito … bibigay mo dapat 100 percent laban sa team na iyan,” he said.