June Mar Fajardo is a man of many achievements having amassed three MVPs, five Best Player of the Conference trophies and countless other accolades.
On Friday, the jovial giant may have gotten one more, though this time it didn’t come with a piece of hardware.
Fajardo has earned the admiration and respect of Star’s bruising import Ricardo Ratliffe, who described him as the “best Asian basketball player” he’s ever faced.
Ratliffe would, as if on cue, always bump his fists with Fajardo every time the San Miguel center steps on the court.
“I just got a lot of respect for him, I said earlier that he’s the best Asian I’ve ever played against,” said Ratliffe after his Hotshots lost to Fajardo’s Beermen, 109-102, in the semifinals of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“I played with some of the best players in the world in different countries so he’s definitely the best player I’ve ever faced against in Asia.”
Ratliffe has plied his trade in Korean Basketball League and also played in the Jones Cup.
In their Game 4 matchup, it was evident that Ratliffe had his trouble against Fajardo.
Sure he did score 36 points against Fajardo’s 22, but he missed 10 of his 24 shots and labored in the post against the PBA’s best big man.
“It’s mutual respect, I think he respects me and I respect him,” said Ratliffe. “I’ve seen him off the court a couple of times and it’s nothing but friendly conversations.”
Ratliffe first played for Star in 2016 and he returned in 2017 for the Commissioner’s Cup, and one of the first players to welcome him back was Fajardo.
And the former University of Missouri Tiger said he wants to come back to the PBA in 2018 to continue his friendly rivalry with Fajardo.
“I’m looking forward to playing against him, he’s a great talent, huge individual, and he’s very mobile for his size,” said Ratliffe. “That’s what I respect about him, he’s not just a big lazy guy… I think he’s like an import, I think he’s better than most imports that come here.”