Fajardo rendered helpless as Petron takes beating from Ginebra
MANILA, Philippines — Japeth Aguilar soared for a two-handed baseline dunk while Greg Slaughter found an open lane before throwing down a two-handed dunk of his own.
It was that kind of night for Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s towering frontline while Petron Blaze giant Junemar Fajardo couldn’t do anything but watch every basket the Kings would get in a 97-83 holiday stuffing of the Boosters on Christmas day.
“They’re playing really well, they’re very strong,” Fajardo, who is sidelined for two weeks with a sprained ACL on his right knee, said in Filipino, referring to Ginebra. “We had a hard time against them because our big men were undersized.”
“I wanted to play and I feel bad for my teammates but I couldn’t do anything to help them,” lamented Fajardo, whose facial expressions alone while he spoke with reporters could tell how badly he wanted to play to help his team Wednesday night.
The six-foot-10 Fajardo couldn’t say how much of a difference he would’ve made if he was able to take off his warmers but his average of 15.5 points, 17.2 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game could well speak of the magnitude his absence was to Petron on both ends of the floor.
“Obviously, it’s a big factor [Fajardo] was out. What happened to them was their guards had to do it on their own and they had a hard time,” said Ginebra’s chief playmaker LA Tenorio, who had six assists and didn’t even need to score a single point for his team to win in such dominating fashion over a shorthanded yet formidable Petron side.
Reigning MVP Arwind Santos and Doug Kramer, who started at center in place of Fajardo, had solid double-double efforts in an inspired attempt to fill the void upfront but doing so much offensively while having to deal with a hefty seven-foot Slaughter and an athletic six-foot-nine Aguilar defensively was just too much to handle.
“We took advantage of them and then there’s Greg and Japeth working together inside,” added Tenorio.
Aguilar scored 25 points on eight-of-14 shooting from the field and sinking nine of his 12 attempts at the line to go along with 11 rebounds and two blocks while Slaughter had 17 points, eight rebounds and a couple of rejections as well.
Fajardo dragged his hurting knee out of the hallways of the Mall of Asia Arena and while the soft-spoken sophomore wouldn’t say how much of a factor he would’ve played had he been healthy late Wednesday night, he perhaps knew that he didn’t need to tell what’s obvious.
“They were about minus 20 rebounds and 15 rebounds without Junemar,” said Tenorio.