RIVALS before, frontcourt partners today.
Following his classic battles with June Mar Fajardo for three seasons in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc (Cesafi), big man Greg Slaughter admits he finds finally playing alongside his longtime rival as part of Gilas Pilipinas a lot more enjoyable.
“This is the first time we’re teammates,” Slaughter told Spin.ph after joining the team practice at the San Juan Arena on Wednesday night.
“Sometimes, I got to say, it’s nice to be with him than against him banging bodies,” added Slaughter with a smile.
The 7-foot Slaughter and 6-foot-10 Fajardo have known each other since college.
Prior to suiting up for Ateneo, Slaughter played for University of Visayas and had several memorable duels with Fajardo, a native of Pinamungahan, Cebu who manned the middle for rival school University of Cebu.
As the Lancers’ franchise player, Slaughter steered the school to three Cesafi basketball championships before opting to join the Blue Eagles in the UAAP.
Fajardo meanwhile, won two Cesafi titles and then took his act to San Miguel in the Asean Basketball League. He was later selected No. 1 overall in last year’s PBA rookie draft.
For Fajardo, playing with Slaughter in the national team gives him an opportunity to reconnect and learn a thing or two from his fellow Cebuano.
“Di mo talaga alam ang buhay basketball," said the Petron rookie. "Dati kalaban mo, pero ngayon makakasama mo na.”
Slaughter said there’s no bad blood between him and Fajardo.
“You know, it’s been a friendly competition since I got in Cebu. He’s like one of the first guys I’ve encountered in Cebu. They’ve always pitted us against each other,” recounted Slaughter, a vital cog in the Ateneo team that won a fifth straight UAAP championship last season.