AT around this time last year, Jayjay Helterbrand was feeling so down he was contemplating retirement.
Now, after a good preseason with Ginebra, the former league MVP feels he can play in the PBA until he's 40.
His body strengthened by rigorous offseason training and his morale high following the arrival of several key pieces that make the Kings a whole lot better, Helterbrand is excited to plunge back into action when the new season opens on September 30 -- retirement farthest from his mind.
"I really thought I could no longer withstand the constant rigors of the PBA," said the 35-year-old guard, explaining how he came very close to calling it quits at the start of last season.
"But through hard work and strengthening, retirement is now behind me. I really hope I could play till I'm 40."
Aware that the league is now loaded with young, cat-quick guards, Helterbrand said he spent the past months building on his physical conditioning. The results showed when he played in the Kings' five preseason games.
The 12-year veteran also knows he and longtime backcourt partner Mark Caguioa won't have to carry much of the scoring load this season after management infused fresh blood in the team with the arrival of rookies Chris Ellis and Keith Jensen and prized acquisition LA Tenorio.
He said he doesn't mind yielding the starting position to Tenorio when the time comes, insisting that he can't wait to team up with the former Alaska star in pursuit of a PBA championship.
"LA is gonna be a big part of this team. I'm so happy that management made the move to get him. And I guarantee that we will work together to help Ginebra win a championship," he said. "Whatever time coach gives me, I'll help. I want to contribute to the team in any way I can."