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    Ginebra stars worthy to have their jerseys retired

    Jun 13, 2020
    ILLUSTRATION: echo antonio

    [Editor's note: Second of a series]

    FOR a franchise so beloved by the fans, Ginebra has only given the rare honor of a jersey retirement twice.

    Allan Caidic was the first player to get feted, seeing his no. 8 retired by Ginebra, as well as San Miguel, when he announced his retirement in 2000.

    That's despite "The Triggerman" spending only a season for the franchise before transitioning to a head coaching role for the team.

    It might be an aberration considering that Caidic spent his prime for other teams like San Miguel and Presto, where he won his 1990 PBA MVP award.

    The second one, however, has no contention.

    Robert Jaworski, the charismatic originator of Ginebra's never-say-die spirit, got his due in 2012.

    Although he saw his career rise with Toyota, "The Living Legend" carried the franchise on his back the moment he came in 1984 and pulled a double duty for more than a decade, acting as the team's playing-coach from 1985 until he won his senatorial bid in 1998.

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    That tenure saw Jaworski steer Ginebra to its first four PBA titles while also capturing the hearts of the masses.

    And it's no surprise that the team gave him his rightful recognition, retiring his jersey no. 7 in a festive celebration at Araneta Coliseum, a full 14 years since he last wore those familiar red-and-whites.

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    SPIN.ph, though, believes that the list should be extended as we pinpointed four individuals who also deserve to get their jerseys retired.

    Here's our list.

    Jayjay Helterbrand (13)


    Coming in as a direct hire in 2000, Helterbrand was pencilled to be the heir to the starting point guard throne of Bal David.

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    Decades later, it's safe to say that he didn't just match those expectations but also shattered those in emphatic fashion.

    In his 17-year tenure with Ginebra, Helterbrand was one of the most decorated, winning the 2009 MVP, claiming the Finals MVP in the Gin Kings' 2007 Philippine Cup crown, and was the BPC in the 2008 and 2009 Fiesta Conferences.

    The Fil-Am was a part of six title teams, including the championship in the 2017 Governors' Cup as he gave one final toast to his PBA career.

    Quite a journey, really, for "The Fast."

    Mark Caguioa (47)


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    If "The Fast" is there, "The Furious" surely isn't far behind.

    And once Caguioa decides to call it a career, a jersey retirement should be a no-brainer.

    His partnership with Helterbrand was considered as one of the best of his time as they steered Ginebra to contention in the 2000s while also being the de-facto faces of the franchise, taking the baton from the days of Jaworski.

    Caguioa, who won the 2001 Rookie of the Year, won eight championships in his 19 years with the franchise, which saw him capture the 2012 MVP and three Best Player of the Conference awards.

    He may not be as productive as he was before, but fans better put some respect on the resume of "The Spark."

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      Eric Menk (30)


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      Menk was truly a major pain, pun intended, to Ginebra's opponents in his 11-year run with the franchise, both literally and figuratively.

      One of the elite big men of the 2000s, the Fil-Am stud was fearless banging bodies in the paint which has kept the Gin Kings constantly in the conversation when talking about the league's elites.

      The 2005 MVP, Menk was responsible for four of Ginebra's championships in that decade, three of which he was named as the Finals MVP. The last of those, in the 2008 Fiesta Conference, he shared that honor with Ronald Tubid.

      It's quite unfortunate, though, that injuries haunted the 6-foot-6 bruiser's tenure with the franchise, leading him to being relegated in the reserve list and then taking his act to San Miguel in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) in 2013.

      After Menk's departure, only one player dared to wear the Ginebra no. 30 jersey as Z Mason took the digit in the 2014 Governors' Cup.

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        For his part, Menk mounted a PBA comeback in 2014, finding a new home in GlobalPort and later on, Alaska until he hung his sneakers for good in 2016.

        Justin Brownlee (32)


        When an import ends an eight-year drought for a long-suffering franchise in truly dramatic fashion, you became a folk hero.

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        But when you steer the team to three more championships and become almost a household name in the country, you bet, you just became an icon.

        It's exactly the career trajectory Brownlee has had for Ginebra, with the soft-spoken reinforcement from St. John's being a staple of the crowd darlings for the better part of the past half-decade.

        Hard to believe he only came as a replacement when Paul Harris hyperextended his thumb and needed a surgery in the very first game of the 2016 Governors' Cup.

        The rest, as they say, is history, with Brownlee still at the peak of his powers and aiming for more championships for the Gin Kings, while also seeking Filipino citizenship.

        But when Father Time comes for this Tifton, Georgia native, his name deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as those of Bobby Parks, Billy Ray Bates, and Norman Black.

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          Honorable Mentions:

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          Bal David (1)


          Ever reliable was David that the playmaker from University of Santo Tomas was Ginebra's preeminent court general, being part of two championship teams while also cementing himself as one of the top clutch performers of his generation.

          There were a handful who have wore his jersey since his retirement, namely Chico Lanete (2008-09), Celino Cruz (2009-10), Mike Cortez (2010-11), James Forrester (2013-14), and Julian Sargent (2017-19).

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            Noli Locsin (6)


            Undersized as he may be, "The Tank" saw the best years of his career with the Ginebra franchise as he was a part of the 1997 Commissioner's Cup champion squad. He also earned his place in the Mythical Second Team twice in his first four years in the league.

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            Since he left, only JC Intal (2010-11), Emman Monfort (2013-15), and Scottie Thompson (2015-present) have taken his jersey number.

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              Think we missed anyone? Hit us up in the comments section on who you feel also needs to see their jersey retired by Ginebra.

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              ILLUSTRATION: echo antonio
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