Pandemic, PBA bubble pushed JC Intal to retirement at 37

Pandemic, PBA bubble pushed JC Intal to retirement at 37

MANILA, Philippines — After 13 years in the PBA, Phoenix Fuel Masters veteran JC Intal has bid professional basketball goodbye after announcing his retirement earlier this week.

But at the age of 37, Intal could have easily had a couple of years left in his tank.

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So what made the one-time PBA champion and three-time All-Star hang up his jersey a full two years earlier than his planned 15-year stay in the pros?

Speaking to former PBA commissioner Noli Eala on his radio show Power & Play on Saturday, Intal revealed how the ongoing coronavirus disease pandemic and homesickness during his stay at the PBA bubble pushed him to consider leaving earlier than he expected.

"Yung personal goal ko medyo napaaga, malaking factor talaga when I went to the PBA bubble," said Intal after falling short of his personal timeline of playing 15 years as a pro.

"Nung time na nandun ako for almost two months, namiss ko talaga yung family ko… [but] it was a great, great experience dun sa bubble," he added.

The high-flying Intal, nicknamed "The Rocket", shared that although he had enjoyed his stay with Phoenix in the bubble, there were times that he would question his future in the sport, especially considering his age.

Then when the Fuel Masters decided to pick five players in the recently concluded PBA draft, Intal felt like he could leave his team more than able to fill in the void his retirement would create.

"Nung nasa bubble ako… Yun yung mga days na naiisip ko kung itutuloy ko pa ba kasi lalo na ngayon pandemic," said Intal.

"Naging malaking factor rin yung age ko, I'm 37 already… Phoenix drafted five players so sabi ko, if I will play inentertain ko rin sa mind ko baka hindi na ako makapagcontribute," he added.

In his final year in the league, Intal was more of a role player from the bench for the Fuel Masters posting only the norms of 4.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists in a campaign that saw Phoenix reach the Philippine Cup Semifinals.

And although his numbers may be far from what it was during his prime in the league, the 6'4" forward will still surely be an asset to be missed as he moves on from professional basketball.

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