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

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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
5:20pm
So June Mar owned Greg last night. Does that make him (June Mar) the best center in the league right now?

Rolly Mendoza
5:23pm
Slaughter
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
5:51pm
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
6:49pm
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
7:28pm
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.

asiThe 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
7:37pm
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
7:47pm
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
8:10pm
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.

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

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
8:32pm

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

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
9:20pm
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
10:07pm
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
10:19pm
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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10 Comments
  • ekaj_03

    I disagree to what Enzo said that Marcio and Lutz were underutilized by the SMB. Based on the stats provided by PBA online (http://www.pba-online.net), both players are averaging 32 Min/Game and Fajardo is at 37 Min/Game. Take a look at the stats breakdown I created based on PBA online.

    As you can see, Lassiter total FGA is at 86 and 12.3 per ball game and shot just 30.2%. And Lutz on the other hand, averages 9.7 FGA per game and an average of 38.2%. Aaanndd Junemar’s FGA per game? its 13. Just a shade higher than Marcio. So I don’t think those 2 guys are underutilized. They are just struggling with their shots.

    With what Enzo said, “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.” – Mind you that they’re running a new system right now under Coach Leo. And what can Junemar do on his struggling teammates? They have open shots but they can’t get it.

    And to answer the question:is June Mar Fajardo the best PBA center today?
    – Absolutely, Yes! No doubt. No need for explanation. Stat-wise, Efficiency; also they are winning games. And they’re tied at the top with Alaska at 6-1.

    Only time can tell when Junemar will get his first title. But I feel that it will not be too long. 🙂

    • atchoi

      Agree with you mate. Come on enzo, we are talking about the best center at present yet you are comparing their past accomplishments, that’s quite unfair for Junmar.

  • IshmaelM

    Making your teammates better. That’s a pretty blanket statement. Does June Mar pass the ball off of double teams or on cuts? Yes, he does. Does he give effective screens on the perimeter or on the paint to free up his teammates? Yes, he does. Does he play good individual and help defense? yes, he does. I don’t know what else you expect from the guy. He plays 40 minutes a game and gets the most stats of any player in the league, not because he wants to, but because it is what he needs to do to help win games.

    SMB is not the deepest team. Take him out of the team and SMB can be defeated by Kia. SMB needed every minute of the 40 minutes, every point of the 36 and every rebound of the 17 in order to win that game. It’s not his fault that Arwind was a non-entity in that game or that SMB had no other center but him. The SMB team without Fajardo is the one of the smallest team in the leagues. It does not have any effective post defenders or rim protectors or excelled defensive rebounder other than him. He has probably the most workload of any player in the league and yet you question if he makes his teammates better?

    On the contrary, the onus is on his teammates, his coach and the team’s management to prove that they are worthy of all the effort that June Mar has been giving to the team. He needs help defending the paint, rebounding and scoring consistently but no one else is doing it, hence he has to play 40 minutes a night. Last AFC cup he averaged about the same minutes and they reached the semis. But he did not have any more juice in the 4th quarter of those semi games to be a difference maker. They lost. I don’t know what else you could ask the guy to do.

    June Mar has done everything in his power to make SMB win, it’s up to his teammates, coach and management to do their job properly and support him. Because currently, SMB seems to be just a one man team.

    • Guest

      Very well said, IshmaelM. 🙂

  • Alfred Stan

    bobo ng analogy ng enzo.. hypocrite pa.. sa tingin nya sa ngayon may mas pipili pa kay Taulava kaysa sa kay Jun Mar.. tanga na lang! ang pinaguusapan best center today! Kahit ilagay yan si JunMar sa NLEX magiging dominant parin yan.. kung manalo o hindi ang team nya hindi yun ang usapan… you can be a complete player but not the best.. versatility ang tawag sa complete aka Pau Gasol.. Si Shaq hindi sya kumpleto pero the best center at one point of his time dahil sobrang dominant.. Si Almazan kahit maging unang champion yan kaysa kay JunMar at GReg hindi masasabing best center yan.. kahit mag grandslam pa yan hindi masasabing mas mahusay yan kina JunMAr at Greg.. kung championship pala usapan eh di si Ping pala pinaka mahusay na center ngayon dahil sya ang pinaka mahusay na malaki ng Purefoods kahit PF ang position. Naghahanap lang ng maiipipintas tong si Enzo kay Junmar.. yan yung mga taong laging may nasasabi para iparating na mahusay sya.. kahit magchampion yan si Junmar ang susunod a sasabihin nyan magagaling kasi kampi o konti pa lang championship.. Uulitin ko the Best Center today ang usapan.. hindi yung past accomplishments o yung mga kakampi ang usapan. Jusmiyo!! Napakaipokrito.. kung pipili ka ng center today sino pipiliin mo? Asi? tanga mo!!

    • Guest

      Pareho tayo ng nakita Sir Alfred. Ginamit kasi ni Sir Enzo na basehan ang Championship at si Asi para sagutin ang tanong. Of course magaling si Asi but ang tanong is “Who is the Best PBA Center TODAY?”. So siyempre, wala nang ibang sagot niyan kundi si June Mar (stats, efficiency, etc.). As with the championship, you can still be the best center even though you still haven’t won a championship trophy. Winning a championship is a group effort, not by one player only. So even though June Mar is/will be the MVP, if his teammates don’t help him, wala ring mangyayari. Not winning a championship doesn’t make a player with the Center role less of being the best center. If you win the MVP award but not the Championship, still good. But if you win both the MVP and the Championship awards, then better (if not the best). 🙂

  • Guest

    Very well said, IshmaelM. 🙂

  • Guest

    June Mar, having won 1 Best Player of the Conference award and 1 Season MVP award were proofs that he really is the best PBA Center TODAY. As with Enzo’s case/argument, he is basing the “Who is the Best PBA Center Today?” award to the one who can give his team a championship and by comparing him to Asi, who is a veteran already (which is really unfair to June Mar and Greg who were just starting their first few years in the PBA). Yes, SMB haven’t won a championship yet with June Mar on their team, because a championship is needed to be won not by June Mar ALONE but by the whole TEAM.

  • missblue17

    June Mar, having won 1 Best Player of the Conference award and 1 Season MVP award (not to mention those awards he got with other PBA players as a team, i.e. Mythical Team, All-Defensive Team, etc.) were enough proofs that he really is the best PBA center TODAY. As with Sir Enzo’s case/argument, he is using the Championship and a Veteran Player (in this case, Asi Taulava) to answer the question “Who is the Best PBA Center Today?”. If we base it to the one who gave his team a championship, June Mar still doesn’t have it. But without the championship, the Center player could still be the best center (because winning a Championship is a group/team effort, unlike the Best Center recognition/award which has to be given to one player only.) In the case of June Mar, SMB haven’t won a championship yet with him on their team but it doesn’t mean that he couldn’t be the best center because again, SMB’s championship is needed to be won not by June Mar ALONE but by the whole SMB Team (the coaches, his teammates, staffs, etc.). Moreover, not winning a championship doesn’t make a player with the Center role/position less of being the best center. If the Center player win the MVP award but not the Championship, good/still good. But if he win both the MVP and the Championship awards, then better (if not the best). On the other hand, if we are going to identify who’s the best center today by comparing him/them to Asi, it is not fair since Asi is a veteran already (while June Mar and Greg have just started their first few years in the PBA). In other words, Asi has already done/achieved many while June Mar and Greg have still more rice to eat in order to equalize/surpass Asi’s achievements.

    A Center Position is based on one player’s achievements. So if we are going to look on each current Center players’ records, siyempre, wala nang ibang nangunguna kundi si June Mar (stats, efficiency, etc.). If the question is “Who/What is the Best PBA Team Today?”, it might not be SMB, even if they have June Mar. But the question here is, “Who is the Best PBA Center Today?”. So the answer? It’s June Mar.

  • Isip isip pag may time

    more Polished low post scorer than Howard? Rolly Mendoza isip isip din pag may time. Howard is the most dominant center sa NBA for 6-7 years bago ma injured and he’s putting up milestones and leading rebounding and has a high scoring average, and yet fajardo is more polished, i know that Junmar is the most dominant filipino and the greatest center but dont compare him to Howard,

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