PBA greats Jerry Codinera and Rey Evangelista said Sunday's jersey retirement ceremony brought closure to their respective careers.
Evangelista spent his entire 15-year pro career with Purefoods while Codinera played his best seasons alongside 'The Captain' Alvin Patrimonio for the organization from 1988 to 1999.
On Sunday, the two many-time All-Defensive team members had their jerseys retired by the PBA ballclub, which held the ceremony in a season where it finally reverted to its old Purefoods name.
That couldn't have been more apt for Codinera, who was named among the league's 25 Greatest Players and earned the moniker 'Defense Minister' in an accomplished career.
“Nagkaroon nga ako ng goose bumps, kasi sabi ko very special itong day na ito,” Codinera said. “Buti na lang nagpalit ng pangalan, kundi, di kami mare-retire.
“Kasi walang closure eh, tumama pa sa game nila (Purefoods-Ginebra), so culmination ito ng pag-award ng 25 Greatest Players at na-retire formally, kaya nag-thank you na ako sa management.”
The 47-year-old Codinera, who recently steered the Arellano Chiefs to a runner-up finish in the NCAA, and Evangelista won five championships together at Purefoods.
Evangelista stayed at Purefoods longer than Codinera and served as the link in the team’s transition from the Patrimonio-Codinera era to the current core led by resident star James Yap.
The left-handed Evangelista said he never expected his career to last that long, considering the many talented and athletic players that saw action during his time.
“Fulfilled ako, kasi almost 15 years ko na paglalaro, eh ang goal ko, nakuha ko. Though di ko rin in-expect na tatagal ako sa PBA, kasi di naman ako katulad nila Jerry," said Evangelista, who now runs a pharmacy business in his native Ormoc City.
"Pero as a role player, tumagal ako at nakapag-Best Player of the Conference pa ako nung 2002,” he added.