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Fajardo-Slaughter: Second coming of Fernandez vs Guidaben?

FAJARDO vs. Slaughter. Fernandez vs. Guidaben. Their respective match ups have always been mentioned in the same breath.

On Sunday, fans finally got a full view of that highly anticipated matchup.

Fajardo, starting center of San Miugel Beer, showed his dominance in chalking up with double-double numbers of 21 points and 15 rebounds on top of four blocks.

Slaughter, the leading frontliner of Barangay Ginebra, held his own and had 16 points and 18 rebounds with two blocks, but Fajardo’s team showed composure down the stretch to win.     

In a few years’ time, the comparisons will become more realistic as these young big men continue their rivalry, which was a spill over of the heated battle that once started in the collegiate ranks—the CESAFI.

I have compared the Fajardo-Slaughter rivalry as the local version of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, maybe because of their physique. Other than that, it won’t come any closer to that of the two NBA legends, who shaped the league in the 1960s with their feverish rivalry.

Purefoods coach Tim Cone had a more precise observation on Fajardo and Slaughter.

“It’s a little shade of Russell vs Chamberlain, but it’s more of a Mon vs Abet, the taller version,” said Cone.

Fernandez stands 6’4”. Guidaben is 6’5”. Fajardo stands 6’10” while Slaughter is just a shade under seven feet.

Cone had seen the rivalry of Fernandez and Guidaben shape up. He was a diehard Toyota fan, who used to cheer for Robert Jaworski, Francis Arnaiz and the four-time MVP Fernandez, among others.

But he had the privilege of coaching Guidaben, a two-time Most Valuable Player, who was traded to Alaska in 1989, Cone’s first year in the PBA.

Having seen Fernandez and Guidaben play gave Cone every reason to compare the Fajardo-Slaughter matchup.

Like Fajardo and Slaughter, Fernandez and Guidaben are almost inseparable when fans talk about rivalry, but they have this understanding that both players can’t be together in one team.     

These two players were not allowed to play together in one team as per the league’s old ruling.

During the 1980s, at the height of their rivalry, both Fernandez and Guidaben, two of the best centers during that time, would trade places not just once but twice.

Fernandez was traded for Guidaben in 1985 and once again in 1988, both of which were controversial ones.

There’s no such ruling that prohibits Fajardo and Slaughter from playing together in one team, but perhaps PBA fans would rather see them going at it as competitors. Mano-a-mano.

If there’s this opportunity fans would be thrilled to see a Fajardo-Slaughter partnership, it should be in the national team as the entire nation is expected to rejoice about that development.

Both players look forward to playing with each other in the future—and the basketball nation will be waiting for it.

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