by Ernest Hernandez
Former PBA MVP Jayjay Helterbrand impresses in his first Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) game as Imus Bandera scores their first win of the 2019-2020 season by beating the Caloocan Supremos in overtime at their opponent’s home court.
The former Gin King finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 30 minutes of playing time.
“It was fun! It was a really good experience for me. We played as a team. All the guys stepped up especially James, our bigs—it was a real team effort,” said Helterbrand on his first MPBL game.
The six-time PBA champion feels that his 42-year-old body needs more conditioning to keep up with the run-and-gun style of play in the MPBL.
“Sobrang saya na we got our first win but as for me, I have a long way to go kasi I am really out of shape. Out of shape talaga,” Helterbrand said. “In this league, fast-paced! Up and down talaga. Kailangan magpakundisyon talaga.”
Helterbrand saw the championship potential with their deep cast of characters that includes James Martinez, Chad Alonzo, Mark Doligon, Mikee Reyes, Jay-ar Ng Sang, Kasim Mirza, Jojo Cunanan, Gelo Vito, Floyd Dedicatoria and Gerald Anderson.
Imus Bandera still boasts players on their inactive list that includes RJ Deles and MC Caceres.
“As long as we stay humble, stay focused and stay hungry, we can do well as long as we can play well and not forget bakit kami nanalo,” said Helterbrand on keeping the team on a winning track.
What impressed the former Kentucky State University guard was the fact that his team managed to fight through a close battle.
“My hats come off to them, they really stepped up, played smart and got key rebounds but there are still things we have to improve on,” he said. “Hopefully, the next weeks in practice, we can work on those things and do better next game.”
James Martinez led the team in scoring with 26 points and 21 of those came from the three-point arc. He felt the impact of Jayjay’s presence as a teammate.
“At least nadagdag si Kuya Jayjay, nabibigay niya sa amin yung winning attitude, yung talagang never-say-die sa Ginebra,” said Martinez. “Pinu-push niya ako kanina, ‘kunin mo yung bola, kunin mo yung bola’ ginaganoon ako ni Jayjay. At least, nanalo kami nong dulo.”
Imus Bandera will get a good test when they face the Bacoor Strikers next on June 20, Thursday in Bulacan.