Cone says Helterbrand still playing at high level, but two factors keep his playing time down
With LA Tenorio playing at a high level and Scottie Thompson continuing to improve, Ginebra coach Tim Cone admits Jayjay Helterbrand is 'caught between a rock and a hard place.' Jerome Ascano

GINEBRA coach Tim Cone believes JayJay Helterbrand is still playing at a high level, but playing behind LA Tenorio and Scottie Thompson leaves the former PBA MVP with little time left to play.

The multi-titled coach inserted the 39-year-old point guard with only one minute and 41 seconds left to play on Wednesday night, giving it to the fans after once again hearing the clamor from the pro-Ginebra crowd in a 103-90 win over Meralco in the Commissioner’s Cup.

“He kills in practice,” Cone said of Helterbrand. “He makes such veteran and smart plays in practice. We’re not afraid to play him in games. It’s just that LA is playing at a really, really high level and then you’ve got Scottie, who we’re trying to give minutes to and develop.”

“So Jay gets caught between a rock and hard place there,” he continued. “That’s the only thing keeping JayJay on the bench right now.”

[See Ginebra assured of higher seeding, momentum entering playoffs after romp over Meralco]

Helterbrand missed his two shots and saw the end of the Gin Kings’ blowout victory, but he wouldn't even be in the game if the choice was down to Cone.

Cone admitted he didn't want to put Helterbrand anymore, reiterating his reluctance to field veterans when a game already has a foregone conclusion. That is tantamount to disrespect, he added.

“I just don’t believe in throwing veterans out there for garbage time,” the American mentor said. “They deserve more than that.”  

“If it’s an important time, then for sure, but for garbage time, no,” he added. “I think it shows a lack of respect.”

Helterbrand also wanted to play, said Cone.

“But JayJay keeps saying he wants to go in, so I’m going to respect his wishes and allow him to go in and play,” Cone concluded of the former MVP.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos