Better late than never: San Miguel's Chico Lanete wins first PBA title at 38
MANILA, Philippines – Chico Lanete has finally captured the PBA championship that had eluded him for the past 10 years as the San Miguel Beermen pocketed the 2018 Philippine Cup championship.
"Sobrang saya ko kasi sa 11 years ko sa PBA, nakatikim din ako ng championship," Lanete said, following San Miguel's 108-99 double overtime Game 5 win over the Magnolia Hotshots.
(I am really happy because after 11 years in the PBA, I finally experienced a championship.)
A few months ago, it looked like Lanete's championships aspirations were already behind him as he found himself with no team after his contract with the Phoenix Fuel Masters expired.
He was also not getting any younger at 38 years old. In fact, he was formerly the oldest active player without a championship despite playing for 7 teams.
Then came San Miguel's call. Lanete was asked to try out for one of the last 3 roster spots for the Beermen and just like in the movies, he got in.
"Noong wala akong team, naisip ko, hindi na siguro ako makakatikim ng championship ever (When I didn't have a team, I thought that I would probably never win a championship)," bared Lanete.
"Pero noong time na tumawag SMB sa akin, nagkaroon ako ng chance. 'Uy, baka may chance na ko' kako kasi siyempre San Miguel eh (But when SMB called me, I suddenly had a chance. 'Hey, I might have a chance,' I thought, because of course, it's San Miguel.)
Although he logged barely 3 minutes in the best-of-7 finals duel, the Ormoc City native had proven his worth for the Beermen earlier in the conference.
Lanete fired 14 points on top of 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals in a come-from-behind 77-76 elimination round triumph over Magnolia, a win that eventually helped San Miguel afford a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
Still, the Lyceum of the Philippines University alumnus, who had 4 DNPs (did not play) in the finals, is just as ecstatic as the whole squad.
"Overwhelmed ako. Wala, wala akong masabi. Sobrang saya lang talaga (I'm overwhelmed. I'm speechless. I'm just really happy)," he said.
With a championship already in the books, Lanete keeps his fingers crossed that he gets to win more.
And as things stand, there is more to come for the veteran guard with the Beermen looking to defend their throne in the Commissioner's Cup.
"Siyempre, nandito tayo sa SMB (Of course, I'm already here with SMB). Hoping for more championships)." – Rappler.com