Marc Pingris, PJ Simon jersey retirement
A framed jersey of their no. 15 and 8 Magnolia uniforms were presented to Pingris and Simon during halftime of the PBA Governors Cup game between the Hotshots and Barangay Ginebra Kings before a crowd of 4,843 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The specially glass-framed jerseys were the actual uniforms of both Pingris and Simon during their final season with the Hotshots, which the team kept for the retirement event.
Both players tried to contain their emotions as they gave their acceptance speeches at midcourt during the ceremony, although Pingris can’t help but shed some tears upon recalling how a young boy who grew up roaming the wet market in his native Pozzorubio, Pangasinan eventually made it big in basketball’s biggest stage in the country.
“Nakaka-iyak pala dito. Dapat talaga hindi pa muna tayo nag-retire, e,” said the 40-year-old Pingris, splendid in an all-blue suit, while thanking his mother, the former Erlinda Prado, and wife Danica Sotto for supporting him through good and the bad times in his entire playing career.
“Hindi ko akalain na ang isang batang palengke pala ay makakalaro sa PBA," added Pingris as his voice began to crack. "Kaya sa lahat ng nanonood na mga bata, hard work lang. Kulang ang talento kung walang puso."
In his all-red suit, Simon, 41, also looked back at his basketball journey from a little-known player from Makilala, North Cotabato to become one of the most inspiring stories in PBA history.
“I’m really looking forward na marami pang players from North Cotabato ang makakarating dito sa PBA,” said Simon, who was accompanied by his beauty queen wife Jehza Huelar-Simon.
On hand to present the two their framed jerseys were Commissioner Willie Marcial, Magnolia team governor Rene Pardo, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) Sports Director Alfrancis Chua, and Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone, who handled Simon and Pingris during their time together with the Purefoods franchise.
Cone had some nice words for the two players, who he both gave a huge hug for the big roles they've played during their championship run together from 2012 to 2014, which saw the franchise win five titles, including the coveted grand slam seven years ago.
Pingris and Simon were the latest former Purefoods players whose jerseys were retired after Rey Evangelista, Jerry Codinera, and four-time MVP Alvin Patrimonio, now team manager of Magnolia.
We are now on Quento! Download the app to enjoy more articles and videos from SPIN.ph and other Summit Media websites.