JAYJAY Helterbrand was a year from turning pro back in 1999, when Ginebra pulled off that memorable comeback against a top-seeded Mobiline side in the quarterfinals of the PBA First Conference.
But the Ginebra guard has a vivid recollection of that upset, which was forever remembered for the sight of then Mobiline star Asi Taulava crying on the bench after the shock loss.
“Yeah, (I remember that game) with Asi (Taulava), when (then Ginebra star playmaker) Bal David hit the (game-winning) shot. That’s the year before I came to the league, and that’s when Asi was (left) crying,” a smiling Helterbrand told Spin.ph.
Fifteen years later, Helterbrand hopes that reversal - capped by a David jumper to give Ginebra an 82-81 win over twice-to-beat Mobiline - will serve to inspire Ginebra when they encounter the same circumstances in the PBA Commissioner's Cup playoffs.
After losing in overtime to Rain or Shine, 101-105, at the end of the eliminations on Sunday, Ginebra ended up as the eighth seed in the playoffs where they will need to win twice against unbeaten top seed Talk 'N Text, formerly Mobiline, beginning on Tuesday.
Helterbrand is confident Ginebra can emulate that epic reversal of 1999.
“Yeah, I honestly believe we can do that (win over Talk ‘N Text twice). I think we have a team that’s capable of doing it,” said the one-time PBA MVP. “This is the way that Ginebra likes to play. We like to play with our back against the wall.”
The Gin Kings were close to changing their fortunes on Easter Sunday after taking a 13-point lead against the Elasto Painters in the first half. But two missed free throws late in regulation by rookie center Greg Slaughter allowed Rain or Shine to forge overtime and eventually snatch the victory.
Still, Helterbrand, now 37, remains confident that Ginebra’s newfound confidence with new import Gabe Freeman can work to the Gin Kings’ advantage against the Texters, who are coming off a two-week respite.
“I think we’re starting to peak at the right time. As long as we stay together, play the way we did, work on little, little things, I think we’ll be okay,” he said.