I HAD known of Peter June "Nonoy" Simon's retirement on March 4, 2020. That was when we last chatted via Facebook Messenger before the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) halted all sports activities including the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) where he spent 17 playing years with the Magnolia franchise.
He told men then, "Yes, it's time. Mag 40 nako karong June. Thankful kaayo ko kay gi-allow ko ni God nga i-fulfill nako iyang purpose sa akoa as a basketball player (I'm turning 40 this June. I'm just thankful God allowed me to fulfill his purpose for me as a basketball player)."
On Wednesday, September 23, Nonoy announced his retirement on his Facebook, saying that he would now focus on his family with his pregnant wife Jehza. He is saddened to say goodbye to the league with whom he spent 17 years of his life but he believes it's the right time to do so.
On his post, he said, "Kinailangan kong umuwi ng Davao nung nagkasakit at namatay ang father ko at nahirapan na rin akong makabalik dahil sa pandemya. Sign na rin siguro yun na ito na yung tamang time para magretiro."
The native of Makilala, North Cotabato shared how things still went in his favor despite being snubbed during the 2001 PBA Rookie Draft. He is thankful to God for the blessings he received, especially in his fruitful PBA career. He said God guided him in his every decision.
He also thanked his boss San Miguel Corporation's Ramon S. Ang for the opportunities given to him in basketball and in business; his PBA coaches in the past 17 years, support staff and management, to the entire PBA, Magnolia franchise, and to all the fans who have been supporting him.
"This is PJ Simon, The SuperSub, Your Scoring Apostle, signing out," he closed out his post.
He really did have a great journey in the PBA. He was a part of a grandslam team, collected eight PBA championship titles, eight All-Star appearances, two Mr. Quality Minutes citations and a PBA 2019 Three-Point Shooting crown.
These feats proved that a Mindanaoan can also make it big in the Big League. That was what he really wanted to achieve. In our chat, he said he hoped that he inspired more athletes to believe that nothing is impossible with God and that Mindanaoans can make it to the PBA.
I've known and covered him since he was playing for the University of Mindanao (UM) Maroons in college and when he made a short stint in the Davao Eagles team of the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association.
He has been interested in basketball since he was eight. His father Pedro, a coach at Notre Dame of Makilala High School then, nurtured that interest as he grew up. The skinny lad came to Davao City in 1997 hoping to get a varsity scholarship but he was turned down by the Holy Cross of Davao College after he tried out. He then found a home with UM but he sat out in most games during his freshman year with more veterans leading the charge for the team.
However, he was no pushover as he steered UM to three straight championship titles in the JS Gaisano Cup where he also reaped most valuable player (MVP) honors and five slam dunk titles. He also played for the Southern Mindanao team that competed in two National Prisaa Championships but they failed to enter the medal rounds. It was a similar fate when he joined UM Maroons in three National University Games editions held in Bacolod City, Manila and Dumaguete City and in three Philippine Collegiate Champions League stagings. And the rest is now history.
Here's to wishing my kumpareng Nonoy a happy new chapter in life as he starts to build his own family. Welcome back to Davao, Noy! Thank you for inspiring the youth with your humility, discipline, and passion for the sport you love.