If PJ Simon had his way, he would want Marc Pingris to play one more year.
He believes that the 39-year-old still has enough left in the tank.
“Gusto ko pa sana maglaro pa siya ng isang taon. Alam ko kasi kaya pa niya,” Simon told The Game on One Sports+ Thursday evening.
Then, on Tuesday, Pingris announced via social media that he will call it quits. He ends an illustrious career that spanned almost two decades.
The decorated forward’s decision didn’t surprise Simon, since they’d already discussed retirement before.
The 40-year-old hung up his sneakers for good last September.
“Hindi na ako na-surprise dahil napag-uusapan na namin ni Ping … Sabi ko sa kanya, pag-pray niya lang dahil si God na ang magbibigay sa’yo ng wisdom.
“Nakita ko na nag-announce na si Ping, parang ‘yun na talaga siguro, ito na ‘yung pinagpe-pray niya,” said Simon.
The careers of both cagers, together with two-time PBA MVP James Yap, will forever be intertwined mainly due to their success together.
On top of their various accomplishments comes the historic Grand Slam they achieved in 2014 with San Mig Coffee under Coach Tim Cone.
The celebrated trio won a total of seven championships together before Yap’s trade to Rain or Shine for Paul Lee in 2016.
Simon and Pingris won a total of eight titles together, the last of which was the 2018 Governors’ Cup. Magnolia beat Alaska in six games.
But even before all those triumphs, the bond was already there.
“Napakatagal na ng pagsasama namin ni PJ,” recalled Pingris, a nine-time champion who’s also one of the PBA’s 40 Greatest Players.
“Ang tagal na ho namin magkalaban ni PJ. MBA pa lang, to PBL, and then nung nagkasama kami sa PBA with James Yap — ‘yung tinatawag na Big Three.”
Their success will forever be written in PBA annals. For Simon, though, it is really how Pingris is as a teammate and as a brother that he’ll always remember.
“Sobrang laki ng impact [niya sa laro] Dahil, ‘di ba, ‘yung naipanalo nila Pingris ‘yung sa Korea,” he said, referring to Gilas Pilipinas’ historic win over South Korea in the 2013 FIBA Asia.
“And hindi lang ‘yun. Si Pingris kasi, mapagmahal ‘yan sa mga teammates niya, kaya no wonder favorite siya ng mga teammates niya. Napakasaya kasama sa court dahil hindi ka talaga pababayaan. Especially ako nga, ‘pag may nananakit sa’kin, talagang pinaglalaban niya ako. And napakasarap maglaro dahil kahit na maiwan ka ng bantay mo, hindi ka niya pababayaan,” he continued.
“Lagi siyang andun, talagang naka-help ‘yan lagi. Or, papasahan ka niyan, napaka-unselfish na player.”