RICO Maierhofer announced his retirement on Friday, ending a career adorned by a PBA Rookie of the Year award and multiple championships in college with La Salle, in the PBL with Harbour Centre and in the pro ranks with Purefoods, San Miguel and Alab Pilipinas.
Maierhofer, 33, won two UAAP championships with the Green Archers before becoming the No. 2 pick overall of Purefoods in the 2009 PBA draft. He won the Rookie of the Year award to kick-start a pro career that also included stints with San Miguel, Ginebra, Barako Bull and GlobalPort.
He last played for the San Miguel Alab Pilipinas team that won a championship in Jimmy Alapag's first year in charge. But the scrappy 6-foot-6 forward said injuries has forced him to go on a 'happy retirement.'
Here is his Instagram post announcing that he is calling it a career:
Ryan Gregorio, who personally picked the lanky Maierhofer in the 2009 draft, will remember him as a solid contributor on both ends of the floor whose main asset was his ability to defend.
"He was a member of the so-called 'Sampayan Brigade' of Purefoods. He was a part of our four solid interior defenders that included Mark Pingris, Kerby Raymundo, and Rafi Reavis. We were really good defensively," said Gregorio, now special assistant to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio.
Gregorio described Maierhofer's rookie year as 'incredible' as he played a key role in Purefoods' sweep of Alaska in the All-Filipino finals, 4-0.
The former Coach of the Year will always remember that campaign since it was 'my last championship' in the PBA.
The sophomore jinx would eventually hit Maierhofer.
During the 2010-11 Commissioner's Cup, he went down with an ACL injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season.
He was never the same again upon his return.
"It is unfortunate that his career turned south due to a series of injuries. He became a journeyman in the PBA and struggled with lack of playing time," said Gregorio.
Late in his career, Maierhofer went viral for his infamous 'shoe-palpal' antic when he tried to use his playing sneaker in blocking the shot of Gabby Espinas during the San Miguel-Barako Bull Governors Cup game.
For Gregorio though Maierhofer was more than this.
"He had a decent mid-range jumper and great timing on the offensive boards," said the former Purefoods coach of his player who beat out top pick Japeth Aguilar for the 2009 Rookie of the Year.
"Now that he has decided to retire, I wish him all the best in all his future undertakings. He is just 33 years old and I am certain that he has prepared himself with this impending eventuality," added Gregorio. "His positive approach and happy demeanor will help him reach his goal in his chosen career outside of playing basketball."