PBA: Yap helped PJ Simon earn contracts with Purefoods
Paul Kennedy Lintag on May 20, 2020 11:29 AM
"For 2-3 years kung di ako nagkakamali, every time na pa-expire na yung kontrata niya, nilalapitan niya kaagad ako. Sabihin niya, 'Par, patapos na kontrata ko. Last month ko na, pwede ba ipasa mo sakin lahat ng bola.'" — James Yap said of the retiring PJ Simon.
Longtime Purefoods star PJ Simon is about to retire from the PBA.
Simon was supposed to have his jersey retired by the franchise this month in the first Manila Clasico of the 2020 PBA season. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a stop to those plans.
Whenever the league comes back, Simon still intends to play his final conference with the Magnolia Hotshots, a fitting end to the only PBA team he has ever known.
As he nears the end of his career, longtime teammate and friend James Yap shared a rather memorable story about Simon, as narrated to the 2OT podcast of PBA broadcasters Magoo Marjon and Carlo Pamintuan.
Before his trade to Rain or Shine in 2016, Yap spent 12 years with Purefoods, serving as the face of the franchise and the Batman to Simon's Robin.
"Grabe yan si PJ, grabe rin pinagdaan niya before. Nung rookie ako, naka-pirma ako ng three years. Si PJ per conference lang yan," Yap said, recalling his story with Simon.
"For 2-3 years kung di ako nagkakamali, every time na pa-expire na yung kontrata niya, nilalapitan niya kaagad ako. Sabihin niya, 'Par, patapos na kontrata ko. Last month ko na, pwede ba ipasa mo sakin lahat ng bola,'" Yap added.
While they ended up being two of the premier scoring guards in the PBA during the primes, Yap and Simon's journeys to the league couldn't have been more different.
James was a star prospect that entered the league as the no. 2 pick in the 2004 Draft. By his sophomore season, he was already the PBA MVP.
Simon was drafted into the league as the 43rd pick. He wasn't selected until the 5th round.
Every time PJ made his request, regardless if he was being serious or was just joking, Yap was always ready to give his pal a hand.
"Sabi ko sige maghanda ka, sayo lahat ng bola, ipasok mo para maka-pirma ka ulit. Ganun samahan namin. Sobrang natutuwa ako sa tyaga at yung sacrifice na ginawa niya, talagang nag-bunga," Yap said.
"Kasi tignan mo naman, nung three months lang mga kontrata niya, eh naka-ilang years na siya sa PBA. Halos sabay lang kami, 16 years. Kumbaga wala na rin hihingin si PJ sa career niya sa PBA. Magaling din naman talaga siya," the two-time MVP added.
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