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As he retires, Helterbrand sees colorful career "blessing from God"

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANDALUYONG--Jay-Jay Helterbrand confirmed on Monday night that he indeed is retiring just three days after getting his sixth PBA title with Ginebra.

"Nagpaalam na ako sa mga big bosses ko. They're in full support. I just thank them for allowing me to have a great career and to stay here on one team," The 41-year-old guard told Dugout Philippines during the team's victory party at the San Miguel Corporation head office.

Helterbrand was directly recruited by the Barangay in 2000 after playing just one game for the Batangas Blades in the MBA, and he stayed with the PBA's crowd darlings all throughout his 17-year stint in the league, eventually forming a backcourt tandem with Mark Caguioa which became known as "The Fast and the Furious".

On what he will miss with his club as he hangs his basketball shoes for good, Helterbrand answered, "The camaraderie with the guys. Everyday, I see these guys in practice, joking around, especially in out-of-town games. That's where you really bond. I'm gonna miss the time we spend together."

Speaking of the MBA, he had an MBA-like farewell tour as he played the championship series against Meralco in three cities, Lucena, Quezon City, and Bocaue.

But for the former Blade, the last two games in the Bulacan town were the most memorable.

"The last two games we had, we had 53,000 and 54,000 people [respectively] that came to support us. It's amazing. I've never played with that many people watching. I'm so glad we were able to send them home with a smile on their faces," Helterbrand said.

The last game turned out to be a graceful moment for him as he went home a champion in what turned out to be his swan song.

"It's a perfect timing to go out. It's a blessing from God that He allowed me to have a great career and end it with a championship. You can't ask any better than that," Helterbrand further said.

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