With under 3 minutes before the final buzzer, Barangay Ginebra fans watching the Gin Kings’ Sunday showdown with San Miguel asked coach Tim Cone for a treat.
And with Ginebra comfortably ahead against the Beermen, it wasn’t the classic “Gi-ne-bra!” chant they were shouting.
This time, they were cheering for a familiar name at the end of the Gin Kings’ bench. They want him to take off his warm-up shirt. They want him to run off the sidelines and into the centercourt. They want him to play.
Cone asked the player in the hot seat, and he answered positively.
And with exactly a minute and 55 seconds remaining in the game, fans finally got their demand — packaged with a bonus.
Basketball fans were treated to a throwback moment on Sunday as Jayjay Helterbrand entered in the game, alongside his longtime teammate and partner Mark Caguioa.
For a while, nostalgia kicked in inside the Big Dome, feeling like the glorious days of the Fast and the Furious again, especially when Helterbrand dished off a sweet pass to a running Caguioa, who was fouled in the process.
It may have happened during “garbage time,” but Helterbrand was appreciative of the request of their supporters.
“The fans are always motivating us and aspiring us, and it just show how much support they have for us,” said the 39-year old veteran. “We’re definitely thankful for their support, especially today, they are the sixth man and really gave the guys the energy to beat a tough San Miguel team.”
Despite the return of June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos for San Miguel, Ginebra still pulled out an inspiring 110-84 win, giving Cone time to field in his reserves, including Helterbrand.
“(I) just wanna be a part of the team and contribute even if there’s just a little bit, and just go out there and have fun,” he said. “We are just trying to enjoy while we’re here and we’re still able to play ball.”
On playing with Caguioa again, he says, “It always feel good, that’s how we started our careers and hopefully we can always end on that note and I’ll miss playing with that guy.”
With Cone commenting he believes Helterbrand can still play for 2 more years, Helterbrand revealed he wants to approach the future depending on his physical condition.
“We’ll see what happens after this conference, just take it conference after conference, I’m not gonna say I will play for two years,” shared the 16-year veteran, while noting his team is in good hands with their current players.
In the end, it’s all about the continuous support for Ginebra despite the championship drought, that is keeping Helterbrand inspired.
“Thanks for the never-say-die support each game, you guys are our sixth man and we can’t do it without you,” he closed. — By Jason Mercene