JayJay Helterbrand touched by pal Mark Caguioa's jersey tribute
Jayjay Helterbrand was not at the Philippine Arena to see the Christmas Day games but said Mark Caguioa told him about the jersey number switch before the season. Jerome Ascano

JAYJAY Helterbrand was moved by the gesture of close friend Mark Caguioa to wear his old jersey No. 13 for Barangay Ginebra in the PBA Philippine Cup.

The recently retired 40-year-old guard admitted getting the shock of his life when he was advised by Caguioa about the matter prior to the season opener.

“He told me about it and I was shocked,” said Helterbrand in a chat with SPIN.ph. “I was also very touched.”

To the surprise of the more than 22,000 fans at the Philippine Arena to watch the Christmas Day match-up between Ginebra and Magnolia, Caguioa showed up wearing No. 13 at the back of his jersey instead of the No. 47 he has become identified with.

It turned out the move was Caguioa’s way of honoring his longtime Ginebra backcourt partner, who retired at the end of last season following a glorious 17-year career with the league’s most popular ballclub.

Known as ‘The Fast and the Furious’ duo, Caguioa and Helterbrand’s partnership produced six championships for the Kings.

Beforehand, Caguioa, 38, informed the league about his decision to wear no. 13 for the duration of the all-Filipino conference, which PBA officials graciously approved prior to the season.

The 2012 MVP however, begged off from expounding about his move to switch jersey numbers in the season-opening meet.

But for Helterbrand, everything is truly appreciated.

“I thought it was a class act on his part,” said the Fil-Am guard and former league MVP (2009) out of Kentucky State. “I’m glad in some way I can still be part of the game.”

Unfortunately, Helterbrand wasn’t around at the playing venue in Bocaue, Bulacan when his bosom buddy carried his jersey number for the first time in an 89-78 win over the Hotshots.

Helterbrand just arrived from the US in time to celebrate Christmas here in the country.

“Jet lag keeps me from going anywhere,” he said a smile.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos