PETER June Simon’s jersey retirement at Magnolia was put on hold with no end to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in sight.
The special ceremony honoring Simon’s No.8 jersey with the Purefoods franchise was supposed to take place on Mother’s Day at the Smart Araneta Coliseum during the first season meeting between the Hotshots and rival Barangay Ginebra Kings.
Unfortunately, the season has only played a single game when the PBA hierarchy decided to shut down league operations indefinitely following the coronavirus outbreak in the country two months ago.
“Yes, it was a scheduled tribute and retirement ng jersey din dapat kung na-approve sana,” said an executive of San Miguel Corporation (SMC), who spoke on condition of anonymity pending an official statement from the company regarding the postponement of the retirement ceremony.
Due to the health crisis, no further arrangement has been made on the supposed special tribute to one of the most dedicated players ever in franchise history.
“Usually kasi gagawan ng memo yun for approval all the way to Boss RSA (Ramon S. Ang),” added the same SMC source. “Ganun din kasi ang ginawa namin before sa ibang mga players.”
Simon’s jersey will be the fourth to be retired in Purefoods franchise history after those of four-time MVP Alvin Patrimonio, Jerry Codinera, and Rey Evangelista.
Like Simon, Evangelista and Patrimonio, now team manager of Magnolia, played their entire PBA career with the franchise.
The 39-year-old native of Makilala, Cotabato signed a one-conference deal with the Hotshots, giving management the time to make the arrangements for his retirement ceremony just before the season started.
But all that remains hanging as the PBA has been left with only two options given the current pandemic – resume the stalled Philippine Cup or scrap the entire season altogether.
As far as the understanding of the SMC official, the retirement ceremony for Simon, who came on board for Purefoods as a free agent in 2004 upon the endorsement of former coach Ryan Gregorio, will also be moved to a later date.
“I think so, pero hindi pa naman na-discuss ulit,” said the SMC source.
The 5-foot-11 guard out of University of Mindanao was a late, late pick in the 2001 draft by Sta. Lucia, tabbed in the fifth round as the No. 43 overall selection.
But he was left unsigned by the Realtors, paving the way for his stint with the Davao Eagles in the Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA), where he was named ‘Discovery of the Year’ by the end of the 2001 season.
After the MBA folded up the following year, Simon took his act to the Philippine Basketball League (PBL) earning a league MVP and championship while suiting up for Hapee Toothpaste.
His impressive PBL stint got the attention of Gregorio, who signed him up with Purefoods.
In his 17 years with the team, Simon won a total of eight championships, was named an All-Star eight times, was hailed the MVP of the 2008 All-Star Game, and a member of the league’s Mythical Second Team in 2014 when San Mig Coffee completed a rare grand slam.
Although considered a star at Magnolia, Simon has come to be known as the team’s most valuable sixth man, earning him two Mr. Quality Minutes Awards in 2008 and 2014 from the PBA Press Corps.