Jayjay Helterbrand is going to stay with Barangay Ginebra.
This was confirmed by the 2009 PBA Most Valuable Player in an exclusive interview with AKTV.
“Yes, I’m coming back. I can’t wait to get back next conference,” said Helterbrand, squelching speculations that he’s retiring to be with his daughters in the United States for good.
The veteran guard, who won four championships with Ginebra, signed a one-conference contract this season while contemplating retirement. After the Gin Kings got swept by the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters last Wednesday in the Philippine Cup quarterfinals, fans began to wonder whether they’ve seen the last of Helterbrand, the other half of Ginebra’s dreaded Fast and Furious tandem along with Mark Caguioa.
“I’ve thought about it, especially during the time when I was consistently injured,” said Helterbrand. “But the biggest reason why I thought about retiring was because of my daughters, who are in the United States. I’ve sacrificed so many things, missing their birthdays, graduation and other important events while they’re growing up. So I thought that at my age now, maybe it’s time for me to make a sacrifice for them.”
“But my daughter told me that she’s willing to study here so that she can be with me and I can continue playing in the PBA.”
Helterbrand added that he’s feeling much better now and is in tip-top condition after an injury-plagued campaign the past two seasons.
“I opted for a one-conference contract to see if my body can respond to the schedule in the PBA. Right now, I feel good.”
The return of Rudy Hatfield, according to Helterbrand, will be a big morale booster for the Gin Kings next conference. The power forward left the team midway through last season, but expressed his intention to come back to the team in time for the Commissioner’s Cup.
Helterbrand believes staying healthy is more crucial for Ginebra, instead of pursuing more roster changes.
“That’s the most important thing. If we can get free of injury, we can compete because we have a solid team.”
Right now, Helterbrand is banking on young forwards Rico Maierhofer and Allein Maliksi to become key contributors for the team. The pair was acquired by the Gin Kings in the middle of the Philippine Cup, but saw little action because of injuries.
“They’re the type of players we need, but they got injured as well.”
After getting swept by Rain or Shine, Helterbrand admits that there is still some bitterness with the way his team ended the tournament.
“I can’t wait to get back next conference because that’s not the way we want to end our campaign, but my hats off to Rain or Shine, they did a good job in the series.”
Because his one-conference pact has expired, Helterbrand is looking at a contract renewal after the holidays.
“Most probably by January 11 of next year during our first practice session. I cannot imagine myself wearing another jersey aside from Ginebra. I want to retire as a Gin King.”