NEAR the seven minute mark of the fourth quarter, Peter June Simon timed his help well, soaring high as he emphatically swatted away JP Erram’s short stab before sprinting to the other end to drain a three pointer.
Those were the plays the 37-year-old guard used to do in his heydays – and he can’t help but smile as he talked about that play.
“It’s been awhile yung ganun, na-excite na ako sa laro, nadala ako sa laro at na-adapt ko na yung defensive style ni coach,” said Simon.
“Yun kasi ang style niya, para makalaro ka kailangan dumepensa. Kaya kahit na may edad na tayo kailangan natin dumepensa para makalaro tayo ng mahaba,” he added.
Simon finished with a team high 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting in just 16 minutes off the bench to power Star to a 103-86 victory over Blackwater on Sunday in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The veteran guard says he is just enjoying games like this, which he admits is becoming a rarity these days.
“Matagal na talaga, hindi ko na alam kung kelan yung huli. Two years ago na ata? Nag-usap nga kami ni coach Johnny (Abarrientos) kanina na ready lang dapat ako sa mga game na mga ganito, kasi may mga games na magmamatch-up si coach at ma-extend yung minutes ko,” said Simon, who averaged just eight points a game last conference, while playing just 15 minutes a game, the lowest he’s played in a longtime.
But even in that case, Simon is more than willing to embrace a far lesser role, and this game just proves he can be just as effective and just as lethal.
“Yung confidence ko naman, kahit kaunting minutes lang ang ibigay sakin ni coach, the same pa rin naman ang gusto kong impact na ibigay. Gusto ko lang magbigay ng spark at energy off the bench. Siguro ngayon nagkaron lang ng chance na gumanda yung laro ko kaya na-extend din yung minutes ko ng kaunti.”
Just like any other player reaching the twilight of his career, the pride of Makilala, Cotabato admitted it was hard to settle down in his new role at first.
But seeing his younger teammates blossom into stars, Simon has learned to embrace his new role.
“Yun ang pinakamahirap na part pag nasa ganitong edad ka na, na kailangan mong mag-step aside. Nakikita mo na kasi yung potential nila, yung depensa nila, hustle nila, rebound nila at scoring, andun na lahat e,” said Simon.
“Gusto ko rin ipakita yun sa kanila kasi mas lalo silang ginaganahan. Alam mo yung everytime, every game alam nila na makakalaro sila kasi willing kami magstep-aside. Expected nila yung playing time nila is the same pa rin. Kahit kanina, ilang minutes lang naman din ako naglaro,” he added.
At the end of the day, the end goal for the seven-time champion is adding more silverwares in his trophy list. He knows exactly what needs to be done in order to attain that goal.
“Ako na mismo nagsasabi na one page lang kami, ang goal lang namin is makaabot kami sa championship. Kahit ma-set aside ako sometimes, walang problema yun.”