Phoenix will be bidding goodbye to frontcourt mainstays Doug Kramer and Willy Wilson after the Fuel Masters wrapped up the 2019 PBA season Friday.
Kramer, who announced that he will hang it up a day before Phoenix's season-ending match against Blackwater, was able to hit the floor for one last time and logged 3 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks and an assist in 19 productive minutes before watching Matthew Wright give him a proper exit with a game-winner in the final moments of overtime.
"I played limited minutes. I'm, happy I got 10 boards. The win was the most important. Matthew hit really big shots and he told me prior to that, 'I'm gonna hit big shots for you, Doug.' I'm happy for him. He's one-of-a-kind talent. Phoenix is in good hands," Kramer shared.
Despite remaining a pretty serviceable big for the Fuel Masters, with whom he spent the last three years, Kramer said he wanted to walk away from basketball on his own terms and not wait until he was beset by any nagging injuries.
"It wasn't a spontaneous thing. I planned this for the past year and my plans were solidified in the past few months," he explained. "I'm very healthy, I'm very strong. Physically I can still take the banging. But there became a notion that for almost every basketball player, will you wait 'til something's really painful until you give up, until you'll only need to take painkillers? I'm not like that.
"Basketball is something that I made one of my avenues. I'll give my all, I'll be professional but knowing it's only an x amount of years -- 6 years, 10 years, 12 years whatever it may be," Kramer added. "I still want to do so much. I have plans with my family. I will announce on my social media soon what I'm planning with my family. It's going to be nice. It's going to be a nice retirement."
Kramer certainly won't lack treasured memories he'll retire with and even shared his personal list of career highlights -- on top of which are his lone PBA title with San Miguel in 2015 and the now-defunct Powerade Tigers' "Cinderella" run early in the decade.
"I think when I was posting (my retirement plans), a lot of fans were telling me that they remember the Cinderella team a lot. And you know those were my best numbers. I was averaging a double-double that year. So that's what I remember the most. The number eight-seed going all the way to the number one. We didn't make it but wow, the odds that were against us," he gushed.
Coach Louie Alas raved about Kramer's leadership after the game and said that it's a huge trait that the Fuel Masters will miss moving forward.
"He's very selfless. It's not only in playing. He's also a natural leader because we know that a factor in leadership is when you're not selfish. Doug is like that. Willing to sacrifice every time even though he won't benefit," he said.
Meanwhile, there's a big chance that Wilson could stay within the world of basketball after wrapping up a 15-year career.
While the one-time PBA champion hasn't formally announced his retirement from the big league, Alas said the 39-year-old opted to make that decision himself because of his age.
"It's probably because of age, too. Most of the time, after healing from injuries he'll feel pains again after just one hard practice. He told me, 'Coach maybe it's time for me to rest.' Sabi ko meron akong extra sa Himlayang Pilipino," he joked.
Alas bared that Wilson could be joining him on the sidelines as one of his deputy coaches in the near future pending negotiations.
"He'll be with my coaching staff, most likely. That depends on his conversations with management. But I recommended him," Alas bared. "He's a thinking player. He'll have a big role on my big men. That's his primary job: to seal, to ask for touches in the post, and he's good at that."
"But of course, it depends on the economy. The pay of a player is different from that of a coach. Definitely a lot. I told him to get another coaching job when he becomes an assistant coach (with Phoenix)," he added. "He'll be good at college. He'll certainly improve as a coach."