BARANGAY Ginebra star Jayjay Helterbrand has indicated that the coming season will be his last in the PBA as he prepares to bring the curtains down on a long, accomplished basketball career.
Persons close to Helterbrand said the 38-year-old guard plans to play out the final season of his three-year deal with Ginebra before ending a 14-year career that is crowned by a league MVP in 2009.
Helterbrand has spent his entire career at Ginebra, where he and pal Mark Caguioa took over the mantle of leadership at the end of the Robert Jaworski era and led the league's most popular team to four championships.
“Yes, he will retire na," said a person close to Helterbrand. "Actually matagal na niya gusto magretire kasi he wanted to spend time with his kids na in the US, kaso he is honoring his contract, kaya he can’t turn his back on it.
“Dati pa niya gusto magpa-alam kaso management wanted to maintain the Jayjay-Mark Caguioa tandem, kasi mahal ng mga fans yung tandem nila eh,” she added.
Helterbrand is in the US since July 13 and is unavailable for comment. He is set to return on August 19.
However, persons close to the Ginebra veteran said he has made up his mind on retirement, which would mark the end of his popular 'Fast and Furious' partnership with pal Caguioa.
Since they joined force in 2001 where Caguioa proved the sleeper of the rookie draft, a year after Helterbrand was taken as a direct-hire recruit by Ginebra, the two have been the faces of the popular team.
“It’s really painful for him, kaso he needs to move on. Basketball is not forever, he knows that,” said Helterbrand’s close friend.
“He’ll go ahead of Mark. Matagal pa siguro si Mark,” she said.
Helterbrand has stayed on as one of the most veteran players in the league despite nearly retiring in 2002 after he was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat.
“It was a risk he had to take kasi mahal na mahal niya ang fans ng Ginebra. He doesn’t want to leave them behind. Ganun si Jayjay ka-sincere sa pagmamahal niya sa mga fans nila,” she said.
The seven-time PBA All Star has remained a force in the league over the years but has seen his playing time dwindle over the past years in a crowded Ginebra backcourt.
“He never complains. Jayjay is one player who will be very happy playing whatever role is given him. Nakakalungkot nga kasi may ibang tao pa ang may mga kung ano-anong nasasabi sa kanya,” said another friend.
Now a devout Christian, Helterbrand hopes that his final year at Ginebra will finally be another banner year for the team that last won a championship in the 2008 Fiesta Conference, where he emerged as the Best Player of the Conference.
As of the moment, Helterbrand is not closing his doors on the possibility of taking a role in the coaching staff of Ginebra, should an offer come.
“He has a lot of options. If it comes (coaching staff offer), it will come. Pero for now, he wants to focus on his business sa kanyang post-PBA career. More importantly, he wants to be with his kids,” added the friend.
Apart from his basketball career, Helterbrand is also running a Christ-centered merchandise business called the Good News and his skin care clinic, Rejuva-Timog, which he co-owns with wife RR Enriquez.
Asked about Helterbrand’s thoughts on the arrival of Tim Cone, his friend declared: “He’s very happy and he is optimistic that coach Tim will bring Ginebra to the promise land and Jayjay is hoping it will happen in his final year!”