LA Tenorio admits everything will be different when Barangay Ginebra begins its campaign in the 43rd PBA season without one of its most respected teammates.
"Ang hirap. Parang kulang, parang pilay," said the former Ateneo playmaker, who was gracious enough to dedicate the Kings' latest championship to his retired teammate. "Parang weird ang feeling pag si Mark (Caguioa) lang yung makikita namin."
The veteran point guard said it would be surreal not seeing JayJay Helterbrand around once the Kings get together again for their first practice for the new season.
Helterbrand officially announced his retirement three days after the Kings retained the Governors Cup championship after beating Meralco in seven games of the finals.
The Fil-Am guard spent all of his 17-year pro career with the league's most popular ballclub.
"Malungkot kasi for sure, 100 percent, mag-iiba ng tema ng practice pag wala si JayJay," said Tenorio as he takes a glance at Helterbrand during the Barangay Ginebra victory party Monday night at the SMC headquarters in Mandaluyong.
The 33-year-old Tenorio was proud to have known Helterbrand personally before he retired from the game. The 2009 MVP actually won the last two of his total six championships playing alongside 'Tinyete.'
"I'm happy na naging part ako ng career niya, na naging mag-teammate kami dito sa Ginebra," said Tenorio. "Masaya ako na naging kaibigan ko siya dito sa Ginebra, kasi mag-kalaban kami nung pumasok ako sa PBA.
It was Helterbrand - and Caguioa, his close pal and the other hand of the well-known Ginebra tandem 'Fast and Furious - who first made Tenorio feel at home when he first came over to the team in 2012.
"Isa siya sa mga nag-handle (sa akin) when I first came here at Ginebra, sila ni Mark. Sila yung natuwa nung nalipat ako rito," he said.
More than that, Tenorio said the Kings owe what they're reaping at the moment through the hard work of Helterbrand and Caguioa, who were instrumental in Ginebra preserving its popularity in the post Robert Jaworski era.
"Kung saan kami narito ngayon, its because of him (JayJay) and Mark," said Tenorio. "I'm happy for him, although at the same time, malaking kawala si JayJay sa team. But I know merong purpose para sa kanya si God."