EVEN when he is not on his usual offensive mode, Jayjay Helterbrand still finds ways to help Barangay Ginebra.
Like what he did Sunday, chipping in a bit of a coaching suggestion which proved crucial and enabled the Kings to fashion a come-from behind 116-103 win over San Miguel Beer in their Motolite PBA Fiesta Conference championshiop duel at the Araneta Coliseum.
David Noel notched a first PBA career triple double with 32 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, but Helterbrand's coaxing of coach Jong Uichico to try a defensive maneuver helped Ginebra rally back from what was once a 13-point deficit and into a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“I thank him for suggesting we use Willy Wilson on Jay Washington,” related Uichico. “I said yes because what I was doing wasn’t working. He said, 'Let’s play Willie and see what he can do.' So I started him in the second half and it worked out well.”
Excellent, in fact, as Wilson anchored the defense that held Washington to just four second half points after the former already had his finals average of 18 points in the first two quarters.
The Kings' defensive stance also proved critical as they forced the Beermen to commit eight of their total 15 turnovers in the fourth period, all during the quarter's first nine minutes that helped fuel the former's charge.
Offense was simply no problem as the likes of Noel, Cyrus Baguio and Helterbrand joined hands in giving Ginebra as much as a 106-93 lead, a difference they maintained until the end.
Even SMB coach Siot Tanquingcen had to admit those turnovers were costly. So did getting outscored by 68-42 in the second half, inclouding 40-25 in the final period.
“We shot ourselves in the foot. We can't expect to give up 40 points in one quarter and win,” he said.
The defense on Washington, as well as the absence of the suspended Danny ldefonso and Marc Pingris, could also not be used as an alibi, Tanquingcen added.
“If we play our defense, it's not gonna be an issue,” he maintained. “We've got enough people to fill up what is needed. If we, as a unit, don't defend it's gonna be difficult for us.”
As it did so well in the series opener, Ginebra made up for its lack of size with its quickness and speedy ball movement to whittle what was a 13-point halftime lead to the game's first deadlock at 71, before it went into the final quarter behind by just 76-78.
And there was also hustle, which Baguio typified most in the fourth with some looseball recoveries and offensive rebounds that Noel and Billy Mamaril translated into baskets for a 10-0 run.
Helterbrand actually started that surge with a fastbreak basket, before Baguio and Noel each drained a triple and Noel a short jumper for a 90-82 spread, 8:46 left, leaving the predominantly pro-Ginebra crowd of more than 13,500 delirious.
Jonas Villanueva's penetrations usually led to Freeman baskets, but the Kings kept their poise and even stretched their lead to 13 pointson back-to-back treys by Noel and Baguio, only 3:12 left in the game.
Earlier on, Tanquingcen's words about not missing the services of Ildefonso and Pingris, who were suspended for the game and fined for trying to go after a Ginebra fan right after a 95-78 Game 2 win, would be proven correct.
Not with Washington and Mike Cortez inflicting the most damage early, enabling the Beermen to seize control and take a 61-48 lead into the break.
Washington has already reached his average in only 17 minutes of first half action, scoring 13 straight that was spiked by three triples and highlighted SMB's charge from an already imposing 54-48 lead.
Ginebra could have been in a deeper hole if not for Ronald Tubid and Noel.
After not even making any attempt in a six-minute relief stint in the first period, Tubid sprang to life in the second with nine points while Noel mostly carried the fight for the Kings in the opening quarter with 10.
Ginebra 116 - Noel 32, Menk 16, Tubid 13, Baguio 12, Salvacion 11, Helterbrand 9, Wilson 8, Reavis 7, Mamaril 4, Lanete 3, Intal 1, Artadi 0.
San miguel 103 - Freeman 25, Washington 22, Cortez 15, Hontiveros 12, Pennisi 10, Villanueva 9,Pena 6, Gonzales 4, Eman 0, Racela 0.
Quarters: 21-29, 48-61, 76-78, 116-103