Imports Ricardo Ratliffe and Charles Rhodes have competed against many Asian players as veterans of the Korean Basketball League and now, the Philippine Basketball Association.
Both players agree, though, that they haven’t seen anyone quite like June Mar Fajardo.
The reigning three-time PBA MVP drew plenty of praise from the two imports following his San Miguel team’s win over Ratliffe’s Star Hotshots to return to the PBA Finals.
“We do that every time after timeout,” Ratliffe told a group of sportswriters of a fist bump he shared with the SMB big man. “I have a lot of respect for him.”
“June Mar is the best Asian I ever played against. I played against some of the best players in the world, but he is definitely the best player I ever played in Asia.”
Ratliffe could be seeing a lot more of Fajardo in the future after the Star import has been naturalized by Korea. Whether it’ll be in FIBA competition or in the PBA, the two players will likely be in more memorable games.
“Either way I will see him. He’s such a huge individual, but he is very mobile for his size. That’s what I respect about him. I’m looking forward to play against him. He’s a huge individual, but he’s not just a big lazy guy,” he said.
“He can move, he can run up and down the court. He does everything. He dunks the ball, he rebounds and shoots the jump shot. I should always bring my A-game, gotta bring my 100-percent. I think he’s like an import, even better than most of the imports that came here.”
If Ratliffe enjoys having the competition bring out the best in him, Fajardo’s SMB teammate Rhodes cherishes the chance to play alongside the dominant Cebuano center.
“I agree with Ratliffe. He’s the best local player big man I’ve ever played with in my life,” said Rhodes.
“I’m just happy to be here. I’m happy to complement him. We complement each other and I hope to continue that in the finals,” said Rhodes.