STAR Hotshots stalwart Peter June Simon is aware it’s only a matter of time before his deadly triumvirate with James Yap and Marc Pingris will finally be broken up.
And this is the reason that this early, he’s already looking forward to priming up the team’s new breed of stars led by Mark Barroca and Justine Melton.
Now being played on limited minutes by coach Tim Cone, Simon said the changing of the guard is inevitable.
“Actually kaming dalawa naman (ni James nababawasan na ng playing time), pero okay lang 'yun as long as nananalo kami saka 'yung young guys nag-i-step up naman,” said Simon.
With Father Time slowly catching up on him, the veteran gunner said he understands if Cone goes to his tried and tested partnership with Yap as much as he did before, especially with the game on the line.
“Nagma-match up na ngayon sa guard spot ng ibang team si coach Tim. Match-up coach din kasi si coach eh. Kung tingin niya na mabilis (yung kalaban), ima-match up nya 'yun ng mabilis,” said Simon, who’s only averaging 17 minutes of play per game this conference.
Simon said Cone now has a lot more options at his disposal.
“Nung araw kasi hindi masyado (nagma-match up si coach Tim) kasi nga live and die si coach sa amin noon. Pero siyempre nag-iimprove na rin yung mga young guards ngayon, dahil maganda ang performance ng mga bata,” added the four-time All Star.
Just like in the Hotshots’ win over Talk ‘N Text, it was Melton who stepped up and provided the spark, scoring 18 points in the team’s 105-93 win.
Plagued by injuries, Simon played his best game of the conference by tallying 15 markers and adding three rebounds and an assist.
“Nakakaramdam na rin (ng pag-edad). Normal yun. Thirty-five na rin ako kaya nararamadaman ko na bumabagal ako mag-recover,” he said.
Other than Barroca and Melton, the soft-spoken pride of Makilala, Cotabato tips the injured Ian Sangalang, Alex Mallari, and Allein Malksi as the future of the franchise.
“Capable naman din sila eh. Pero I hope andun kami para makatulong at makapagbigay ng advice sa kanila. Hopefully, makatulong sa kanila,” he said.
But make no mistake about it, Simon said he’s not yet ready to ride into the sunset as he approaches the 12th year of his colorful pro career.
“(Hindi pa naman tayo handang lumayo sa basketball). Kung panahon na panahon na. Pero hanggat kaya pa, kakayanin,” he said.
Asked for his time frame, Simon said he will consider hanging up his jerseys in two to three years.
“Kaya pa naman pero nakakaramdam na rin tayo. Ginagawa ko na lang ng makakaya ko, rest, (ingat sa pagkain). Lahat ng (pwede kong gawin na) recovery ginagawa ko,” he said.
To lighten the mood, here's a video of a fun moment in Star's practice on Thursday: