Jayjay Helterbrand is turning 40 this October, but Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone is convinced that the veteran Kings guard can still compete at a high level for another 2 years.
Helterbrand though has been buried deep in the bench, having to play behind starting playmaker LA Tenorio and rookie Scottie Thompson.
The other half of Ginebra’s once famed “Fast and Furious” backcourt has only played 5 games in the ongoing Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup, averaging 0.4 point, 0.4 rebound and 0.6 assist in just 6.6 minutes.
But the American coach felt the six-foot playmaker is a much better shooter this season compared to his early years with the league’s most popular team.
“He’s quick, he’s even become a better shooter now than early in his career. He may not be as quick as going to the basket, but he‘s smart, plays the game at a high IQ level so cud he play another year or 2,” Cone told FOX Sports.
“I think he could even play through his 40s, which is unusual for guards because he’s done a great job taking care of his body,” he added.
The one-time PBA MVP’s contract is set to expire at the end of the season and Cone is uncertain if Ginebra’s long-time point guard is willing to return next year.
But should Helterbrand elect to return, the league’s multi-titled coach believes he’ll still be able to contribute.
“That’s (retirement or returning next season) gonna be up to him (Helterbrand). But his body is good and he’s still healthy and he’s quick,” Cone pointed out.
The 58-year-old Cone said he respects Helterbrand for his commitment to the game, being 1 of the 1st players to arrive in practice, working out and taking good care of his body.
“Even if he’s not getting a lot of minutes, he’s working out, taking care of his body. i think Jay’s very capable of extending his career but it’s really up to him, on how much time he wants to devote” he said.
“But that’s really the key for older players, if they can take care of their bodies, then, they can extend their careers. But if they get lazy and be the same way they were in their 20s, it ain’t gonna work for them.”
Helterbrand and pal Mark Caguioa are the only remaining holdovers from the Ginebra squad that won the franchise’s last PBA championship during the 2008 Fiesta Conference.
The 39-year-old Ginebra guard was a 2-time Mythical 1st Team member, 2-time Best Player and Finals MVP during the 2007 Philippine Cup. – By Richard Dy
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