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Hoop Nut One-on-One: is June Mar Fajardo the best PBA center today?

After a long school day, the Hoop Nut tag team had a long conversation. The topic? Can we really consider June Mar Fajardo as the best PBA center today?

Enzo Flojo
So June Mar owned Greg last night. Does that make him (June Mar) the best center in the league right now?

Rolly Mendoza
Slaughter-1024x751 Hoop Nut One-on-One: is June Mar Fajardo the best PBA center today?  - philippine sports news
The challenger to the throne: Greg Slaughter

That was an awesome game! I’m sure the millions and millions of fans watching last night would definitely agree.. Anyway, according to individual award’s that were given last year, Junemar is the best player by virtue of winning the MVP while Greg is the challenger to the throne after he won Rookie of the Year. So, YES. Junemar is the best center and maybe even the best player in the PBA

Enzo Flojo
Difficult to argue with the fact June Mar has been productive and mighty dominant, but I kinda feel like SMB is focusing on him too much and underutilizing other guys like Marcio and Lutz. For me, it has to go beyond production. June Mar has to make the people around him better, and, perhaps more importantly, push his club to a title.

Right now, June Mar is a little bit like the Dwight Howard of old — a guy who can fill the sheets but cannot really carry a team to the big one.

Rolly Mendoza
I disagree with the Dwight Howard comparison especially since June Mar is a more polished low post scorer than Howard. You might be putting too much pressure on June Mar who is starting his third year in the league. Fajardo has also played for at least 5 head coaches in his 3 years. That lack of continuity could hurt his growth and maturity yet Fajardo bagged the MVP.

Enzo Flojo
C’mon, man! I don’t think it’s possible to put too much pressure on… the MVP! If there’s anybody in the league who should make his team and all his teammates all that much better, it’s him! I’m also not sure if he’ll be able to dance in the paint the same way if he were playing in the league Dwight is. Until he really pushes SMB over the hill and to a title, though, I think he’ll always be a notch lower than the real greats.

asi-1024x736 Hoop Nut One-on-One: is June Mar Fajardo the best PBA center today?  - philippine sports newsThe immortal one: Asi Taulava

For me, despite his team not really excelling, Asi Taulava could still be considered the best center out there.

Rolly Mendoza
Hmm.. Asi will be among the great centers of the PBA once he retires while Junemar is just beginning his career. Asi is still a solid player but might be a stretch to consider Asi better than Junemar at this moment. Even the numbers heavily side with Junemar and if wins are used as a gauge of making your team better, Fajardo also wins that category over Taulava.

Enzo Flojo
Here’s my thing. Put June Mar in any other team and does he play as well? Put him in NLEX and do they win 2 games out of 6? I don’t know think so.

Put Asi in SMB, though, and you know things are gonna be great. You just know, even in his 40s, Asi is still a dominant center. I mean, only two teams have beaten Ginebra this conference — SMB and NLEX.

Asi makes his teammates better, and June Mar isn’t there yet.

But wait, aren’t we leaving out Greg Slaughter? Shouldn’t Gregzilla be in the conversation? You put the numbers together and it’s June Mar, Greg, then Asi, but neither June Mar nor Greg has proven to be a winner yet.

Think young Shaq and Alonzo versus veteran Hakeem in the mid-90s.

Rolly Mendoza
It’s tough to imagine if Junemar can be effective playing with NLEX but don’t you think that it’s unlikely for a young MVP to make his new team worse? Was Junemar so undeserving of last year’s MVP that if he joined another team, that team would be better without him? I highly doubt that. I bet more than half of the league would trade for Fajardo in a split second IF SMB made him available.

Anyway, it took Asi four years before he won a championship with Mobiline so that gives Junemar a year and Gregzilla two more years to win one of their own.

centers-01-fernandez Hoop Nut One-on-One: is June Mar Fajardo the best PBA center today?  - philippine sports news

The best center of all time: Ramon Fernandez (PBA center from Rolly’s childhood) Image from Interaksyon

Ah, we are dating ourselves by comparing Junemar, Greg and Asi to the great centers of the NBA… but how about comparing them to two of the best centers of our childhood: Ramon Fernandez and Abet Guidaben?

Enzo Flojo

8163470876_1e495bec45_o Hoop Nut One-on-One: is June Mar Fajardo the best PBA center today?  - philippine sports news

Center from Enzo’s childhood: the Tower of Power Benjie Paras (image from PinoyExchange)

Iba ata childhood mo, Rollz. Ang centers nung childhood ko sina Jerry Codiñera, Benjie Paras, Marlou Aquino, and Dennis Espino e.

Haha yeah June Mar has one more year to win, but his SMB team is much deeper than what Asi had at Mobiline, and, well, I’m not so optimistic given his injury history. I’m sold on June Mar being a great center, but I’m not sure if it’s because of SMB’s system of force-feeding him e. Unlike Asi, Fajardo never consistently excelled in international play and when he was in the ASEAN Basketball League he was pretty much a scrub.

He’s a completely different kind of “producer” now, of course, but I’m still not sure if he can duplicate these numbers with, let’s say, JC Intal instead of Arwind Santos or Jonas Villanueva instead of Sol Mercado as teammates.

Rolly Mendoza
Well, Fernandez and Guidaben were replaced by Paras and Codinera but the older duo had more epic battles…
Anyway, maybe Junemar wont produce the same numbers with another team but I’ll give this to Asi, he is a much better defender than Fajardo or Slaughter.

If Fajardo wins another MVP or a title, will that make you change your opinion about him?

Enzo Flojo
MVP, meh, but if Fajardo wins a title, then I am 100% sold already. That’s really gonna solidify his status as the best center in the local game. It’ll be pretty interesting to see who gets a title first, though– Greg or June Mar.

If they’re not careful baka maunahan pa sila ni Almazan.

Kinda like the Olajuwon-Ewing rivalry in the 90s, too. Olajuwon got two rings, Ewing got 0. I think ten years from now we’ll be talking about Greg & June Mar in the same way, but who’ll have titles and who won’t?

Rolly Mendoza
I’ll have to agree that winning titles will be the ultimate measuring stick for Greg and Junemar. However, I will also consider their contributions to our national team and the medals that they will bring home to our country.

Their impact should not be limited to the PBA only.

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