By Jonas Terrado
Mark Caguioa will probably act as if he was Dom in Fast & Furious 7 once he steps on the court for the first time next season without his long-time partner Jayjay Heltebrand.
With Helterbrand pulling off what Brian did in the conclusion of the famed movie by deciding to retire after 17 PBA seasons, Caguioa is riding on a rollercoaster of emotions as he deals with reality of resuming his career without the other half of the duo known as “The Fast and the Furious.”
“I’m happy but sad at the same time,” Caguioa said when asked of Helterbrand’s retirement during Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s victory party Monday night at the San Miguel Corporation head office in Mandaluyong City.
“Happy because he can spend time with his family and loved ones back in the States and sad because I’ll not gonna be with him everyday,” he added. “For 17 years, we were basically with each other every single day. Now that mawawala siya sa practice, sa games, it’s gonna be like a real big adjustment for me.”
It will be the first time since 2003 when Helterbrand decided to take a year-long hiatus that Caguioa will play without his comrade. Their partnership began in 2001 when Caguioa burst out of the gate and formed a duo with Helterbrand initially known as the “Bandana Boys” – a reference to both wearing headbands.
A new nickname, which the two have been known since, also came at the time when Ginebra began to collect championships. Caguioa and Helterbrand won four titles between the 2004 Fiesta Conference to the 2008 edition of the same conference.
They endured an eight-year title drought that saw Helterbrand and Caguioa winning the Most Valuable Player award in 2009 and 2012, respectively, before being part of the emotional 2016 Governors’ Cup title run albeit in smaller roles.
Their latest crown saw Ginebra beat Meralco in seven games in the Governors’ Cup finals, Helterbrand getting one final chance at celebrating another crown. His Kings teammates had sense that the No. 13 jersey was seen for the final time before a record 54,086 fans at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
On Monday, Helterbrand’s PBA journey that began after being plucked away from the Metropolitan Basketball Association to become Ginebra’s direct hire had reached the finish line. Caguioa feels his buddy was at peace with his decision.
“I was kinda ready for it, parang alam ko na and I know that he’s ready. And I’m happy because he’s happy with that decision,” Caguioa said.
Helterbrand took time to bid adieu to teammates and fans. He saved his best message with Caguioa by his side.
“I’m gonna miss you man,” Helterbrand told Caguioa before sharing a hug.
Their last public appearance as a duo mimicked the final scene of the Fast & Furious 7 when Dom and Brian took their final ride together before driving off in separate directions.
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