Dec 26, 2021

Purefoods franchise gives Ping, PJ fitting retirement

MARC Pingris and Peter June Simon capped their distinguished PBA career on Christmas Day when Magnolia formally retired their respective playing jerseys.

A crowd of 4,843 were on hand at the Smart Araneta Coliseum to witness the send-off to two of the most decorated players in Purefoods' franchise history.

Pingris, 40 and Simon, 41, were presented with a glass-framed souvenir of their no. 15 and no. 8 uniforms, which were the actual jerseys they used during their final season with the Hotshots.

On hand to present them their retirement jersey were long-time Purefoods governor Rene Pardo, SMC sports director Alfrancis Chua, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, and Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone, who was the man at the helm for the proud franchise when Simon and Pingris were at their peak and winning one championship after the other.

Pingris came with actress wife Danica Sotto and his mother Erlinda Prado, while Simon was with beauty queen wife Jehza Huelar.

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Both players naturally became emotional as they looked back on their basketball journey.

Pingris, a native of Pozorrubio, Pangasinan, thanked his family, his wife and two children, but reserved the biggest compliment on his mother.

"Thank you, Ma. Gusto ko lang i-honor yung mother ko sa pagpapalaki niya sa amin. Hindi ko akalain na ang isang batang palengke pala ay makakalaro sa PBA," said Pingris in between tears. "So lahat ng nanonood ngayon na bata, hardwork lang.

Kulang ang talento kung walang puso. Thank you, Ma. I love you so much. Pagmamalaki kita lalo."

Simon also did the same, acknowledging his family and all the people who's been part of his career, before making special mention of his home province Makilala, North Cotabato.

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"To my hometown, Makilala, Cotabato, since from the start laging naka suporta sa akin, sobrang nagpapasalamat ako sa inyo. I'm really looking forward na marami pang players from Makilala, North Cotabato or from Cotabato na makarating dito sa PBA," said the soft-spoken guard.

Pingris and Simon are just only the fourth and fifth former Purefoods players whose jerseys were retired by the franchise together with Rey Evangelista, Jerry Codinera, and four-time MVP Alvin Patrimonio.

The retirement ceremony were held at halftime of the Magnolia-Barangay Ginebra Governors Cup showdown, which the Hotshots won by a mile, 117-94.

Pingris won eight championships with the Purefoods franchise where he played from 2005 to 2019, although in between he suited up for one season with San Miguel.

Simon on the other hand, suited up for the team his entire PBA career from 2004 to 2020, winning eight titles along the way. (RG)