ONCE a connerstone of the multi-titled NLEX franchise, Garvo Lanete is now team captain of powerhouse Hapee Toothpaste in the ongoing PBA D-League Aspirants Cup.
He was therefore in a good position to compare NLEX with the Fresh Fighters' talent-laden roster bannered by two-time UAAP MVP Bobby Ray Parks, reigning NCAA MVP Earl Scottie Thompson, Arnold Van Opstal, and Troy Rosario.
So who’s the better team?
Lanete declined to answer the question categorically, but admitted Hapee has more talent than the old NLEX that won all but one of the conferences it played in two seasons in the developmental league.
“Mas talented talaga `yung mga players ngayon,” said the 25-year-old Lanete, who decided against joining this season's PBA rookie draft to stay one more season with the Fresh Fighters.
Still, Lanete said NLEX had something then that Hapee has yet to develop.
“Mas experienced `yung mga players before,” said Lanete of the Road Warriors, where he had for teammates the likes of Kevin Alas, Jake Pascual, Matt Ganuelas, and Ronald Pascual, all of whom are now in the PBA.
At the moment, Hapee is following in the footsteps of NLEX as the Fresh Fighters are unbeaten in five games in the season-opening conference.
But what really set NLEX apart, Lanete said, was the experience and closeness of the team since several of its players also played together for the national team in the Southeast Asian Games and other minor international tournaments.
It’s something the Fresh Fighters still have to gain considering the short period of time the team has been assembled, according to Lanete.
“Mas close kasi ‘yung NLEX kasi matagal na magkakasama sa Gilas cadet at San Beda. Although may San Beda pa rin, ‘yung ibang players galing sa iba’t ibang schools. Experience-wise, mas experienced talaga ‘yung NLEX,” said Lanete.
With Hapee though, Lanete sees himself as one of the team’s elder statesman.
“Pero mas may kuya pa sa akin,” he said, obviously referring to former pro player Marvin Hayes.