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PJ Simon calls it a career

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After 19 years, one of the greatest underdogs in league history has called it a career.

PJ Simon retired from professional basketball on Wednesday afternoon.

“Hindi ko inakalang posible pala para sa isang payat at maliit na bata mula sa Makilala, North Cotabato na makarating sa PBA. Hindi ko rin inakala na pagkatapos hindi mapansin nung 2001 PBA Rookie Draft na posible pa pala mag-iwan ng sarili kong marka sa liga,” read the 40-year-old’s post on Facebook.

“Nakakalungkot man pero ito na siguro yung tamang panahon para magpaalam sa liga.”

Simon cited that he now needs to focus on his family, having opted to not join Magnolia inside the PBA bubble in Clark, Pampanga.

“Kinailangan kong umuwi ng Davao nung nagkasakit at namatay ang father ko at nahirapan na rin akong makabalik dahil sa pandemya. Sign na rin siguro yun na ito na yung tamang time para magretiro.

“Binigay ko yung 17 years ng buhay ko sa PBA, sa Magnolia Hotshots, at sa lahat ng fans but now it’s time to focus on my family. My wife is pregnant and gusto ko magkasama kami as we start a family,” he continued.

Back in 2001, the 5-foot-11 guard out of University of Mindanao had to grind in MBA team Davao Eagles to make himself known.

After the MBA folded, Simon led Hapee to numerous championships while gaining a reputation as one of the amateur ranks’ deadly scorers.

Despite his exploits, Simon floated around in free agency, only suiting up in the PBA back on 2004. And he would then make his name with only one team — Purefoods.

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“Sobra-sobra ang mga biyayang natanggap ko sa buhay ko especially sa aking PBA career at pinapasalamatan ko ng buong puso ang Panginoon,” he expressed.

“Naging sandalan ko ang Diyos sa bawat desisyon na aking tinatahak at pinapalangin ko na lagi akong gabayan ng Panginoon sa aking paglalakbay.”

In Purefoods, Simon won eight PBA championships, forming a formidable trio with Marc Pingris and James Yap.

The eight-time All-Star also made himself a crowd favorite, earning the nickname “The Scoring Apostle”.

“Nagpapasalamat din ako kay Boss RSA [Ramon Ang] na nagbigay ng oportunidad sa akin sa larangan ng basketball at negosyo, sa lahat ng naging coach at naging teammates ko sa loob ng 17 years sa paglalaro ko sa liga, sa mga support staff and management side, sa buong PBA, sa Magnolia franchise, at sa lahat ng fans na walang sawang sumuporta sa akin,” said Simon.

Simon’s jersey retirement was supposed to take place last May 10, but was aborted due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

And he hopes to see everyone when that day happens, once everything gets back to normal.

“Umaasa ako na magkikita-kita tayo sa panahon na iretiro ang aking numero.”

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