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James Yap sad to see 'last dance' of close pal PJ Simon put on hold

by Reynald Magallon, May 15, 2020 3:46pm

Rain or Shine Elastopainters guard James Yap was sad to see the final conference and jersey retirement of close pal PJ Simon put on hold.

Simon announced before the start of the season that the Philippine Cup will be his swan song. However, the COVID-19 Pandemic forced the PBA's 45th Season to a hiatus, putting Simon's last dance also on hold.

In fact, the Magnolia Hotshots was supposed to retire the jersey number 8 of Simon last Sunday when they're scheduled to face arch-rival Ginebra San Miguel.

"Pinaghandaan ni PJ yung conference na ito, last conference na ata niya, nakakalungkot pero syempre unahin muna natin yung health nation," said Yap during an online interview with PTV sports last Wednesday

Yap also admitted that it would be hard for him to imagine the league without the 'Scoring Apostle'.

"Nakakalungkot syempre kasi ang dami rin naming pinagdaanan ni PJ, especially sa mga championship na pinaglabanan namin before pero syempre di naman tayo pang habang buhay dito sa pba," he added.

Yap and Simon played together for 12 years with the Purefoods franchise before the former was traded to the Rain or Shine Elastopainters in 2016. The two won seven championships together including a Grandslam title in 2014.

Simon perfectly blended with the star-studded Purefoods. He was able to shine despite playing behind the shadows of Yap and were even able to form a great triumvirate with him and Marc Pingris.

It wasn't a smooth sailing career though for Simon who had to earn his spot in the team after getting drafted in the fifth round in the 2001 PBA draft. He worked his way up, embraced his off the bench role, eventually earning him the title of being the league's super sub.

Yap even recalled at how he and Simon talked during the days when the latter had to impress the management to be able to get a contract extension.

"Si PJ grabe yung pinagdaanan nyan, three month three months lang yung kontrata nya before, so pagpatapos na ying kontrata nya sinasabihan nya ko, patapos na kontrata ko ipaso mo sakin yung bola Sabi ko humanda ka ipapasa ko lahat sayo, so ganun yung relationship naming," shared Yap.

Although seeing his close pal bid PBA goodbye will sadden him, Yap was happy to see Simon walk away with a fruitful 16 years in the PBA that saw him win eight championships and a Mythical Second team inclusion in 2014.

"I'm happy for PJ ilang years na kami andyan pa rin siya."

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