Solely playing for crowd-darling Ginebra, veteran playmaker Jayjay Helterbrand lived up to everything he could wish for in his decorated basketball career.
Throughout his 16-year PBA career, the veteran Ginebra playmaker collected 4 championships and numerous individual accolades, including the MVP award in 2009.
As he moves into the tailend of his illustrious PBA career, the 39-year-old Ginebra Fil-American guard said one thing he wished he had accomplish in pro basketball was compete against the world’s best athletes.
“Maybe playing for the national team is the thing I wish I could have done better, to experience winning on the national team, making it in the Olympics, in the qualifying,” Helterbrand told FOX Sports during a recent chat after practice.
The Fil-Am guard was a member of Powerade Team Pilipinas that saw action in the FIBA-Asia men’s championships in 2009. Together with PBA veterans Asi Taulava, Sonny Thoss, and James Yap, the Yeng-Guiao-mentored squad could only afford to finish eight in an all-Filipino roster.
But since the national team’s experience in the Asian tilt in Tianjin, China in 2009, the Philippines saw its steady rise in the international scene, thanks to the well-funded Gilas Pilipinas program of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas that led to the country’s return in the FIBA World Cup in 2014 and Olympic qualifying tournament last month.
“I think that experience (playing in the World Cup and OQT) is the one and only thing I wish could go back and redo,” Helterbrand added.
But the six-foot Ginebra guard isn’t one who would dwell in the past. In fact, Helterbrand said he’s happy with how God has blessed his professional career, having played for the PBA’s most popular league.
While fans and critics alike will have to wait on his decision if he will be hanging his sneakers after the ongoing Governors’ Cup, Helterband just wanted to contribute to the team as it tries to end an 8-year championship drought.
“Anything now, it’s just a bonus. Hopefully I win another win before the times up,” he said.
FOX Sports will be coming out with its full interview with Helterbrand next Tuesday. – Jason Mercene
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JasonMercenePH