BENEATH the happy faces, there’s also a tinge of sadness which Mark Caguioa and JayJay Helterbrand couldn’t hide as Barangay Ginebra made it back to the PBA finals under their watch.
Could it be the final ride for the tandem known as ‘The Fast and The Furious.’
While Helterbrand seemed to be amenable to the inevitable, it was his longtime partner ‘The Spark’ who was a bit emotional when asked if this could be the last time – and the closest one at that - the two of them will be chasing a title together.
“Man, I don’t know. I’m just .. like me and him, we’re looking at each other over there and we just can’t believe that we’re here,” said Caguioa, recalling the waning moments of Tuesday night’s deciding Game Five of the Governors Cup finals when everything was over but the shouting.
Caguioa and Helterbrand are the only two remnants of the last Ginebra team that won a championship during the 2008 Fiesta Conference.
Both of them came one after the other with Ginebra in the early 2000 and would become the face of the franchise for the next decade or so.
Their friendship strengthened by time, Helterbrand and Caguioa, both former league MVPs, are aware they’re now in the twilight of their respective careers that this could yet be the perfect opportunity for them to win a title together for one final time.
That’s why the bosom buddies tightly embraced each other inside the playing court when the Kings finally wrapped up the series, 3-2, following a 117-92 victory over the San Miguel Beermen.
“That’s what I was telling him. When he retires, and then there were none. Paunti-unti na lang,” said Caguioa.
The 39-year-old Helterbrand, who’s reportedly contemplating retiring by the time the season is over, then butted in, “The last of the Mohicans.”
“That’s why we gave each other a big hug,” Caguioa, 36, continued. “We’ve been here since the beginning. Nagpalit ng mga coach, ng mga players, pero nandito pa rin kami.”
Trying to make the interview a little bit light, Helterbrand referred to his journey with his close pal as ‘One last ride, just like the movie,” he said with a chuckle.
But Caguioa couldn’t hide his true feelings.
“I’m happy and I’m sad at the same time. I still don’t want to think that he’s gonna retire. Don’t want to think about that,” he said.
Told that he’s a bit teary-eyed, Caguioa was quick to reply, “a little bit” before finally excusing himself.
Yes, even men do cry.