VETERAN guard Jayjay Helterbrand said every single Ginebra player needs to look at himself in the mirror and ask if he gave his all for the team during a failed PBA Philippine Cup campaign, saying the answer is likely, 'No.'
“I don’t know if everyone really gave it their all in practice and even in games (in the Philippine Cup). But that’s the motto of Ginebra, never-say-die, every single game, so I think each and every one of us can look at the mirror and ask ourselves, ‘Did we do that’?’ I think the answer would be no,” Helterbrand said.
Helterbrand shared his sentiments in light of management’s decision to bring back coach Ato Agustin to replace Jeff Cariaso after just two conferences at the helm of the league's most popular ballclub.
Speaking to Spin.ph at the end of the team’s first practice under Agustin on Monday at the Green Meadows gym in Libis, Quezon City, Helterbrand warned changes to the coaches or the system will amount to nothing unless the Gin Kings play hard every night like the Ginebra of old.
“I think we just can’t blame it on the system and the triangle, or whatever it is. Whatever system it is, you have to play hard regardless, especially with the guys who are getting all the minutes, the guys we look to, to win games for us,” added the one-time MVP, now the most senior in the Ginebra team at 38.
With Agustin back at the helm, Helterbrand said rediscovering the passion to play the game under the former champion coach of Petron is something every Ginebra player needs to do as they prepare for the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“It’s not just the young guys, I think everybody, the whole team (needs to embrace the never-say-die attitude). As veterans, maybe we forgot about it. Maybe, we didn’t get the young guys enough, but it’s the whole group,” he said.
“You can’t pinpoint one person, maybe even the coaching staff, we really have to embrace that like we did in the past.”
The 14-year PBA veteran also appealed to the fans for patience, saying the Gin Kings, despite being one of the most talented on paper, is still finding ways to work together as a unit.
“It’s a rebuilding process. That’s where we’re at,” the two-time Best Player of the Conference awardee said candidly.
“Show me any team whether here in the PBA or any other league when they are in that process that everything works out right away. It doesn’t work that way because there’s no such thing,” he added.
“We have to go through a lot of hardships. We have a lot young players and a lot of veterans who have to accept their roles now.”
Under Cariaso, Ginebra compiled a mediocre 12-11 win-loss card, failing to get past the quarterfinal phase in the past two conferences. The team last won a PBA championship in the 2008 Fiesta Conference.