Veteran Garvo Lanete embraces take-charge role as Hapee bolsters bid for finals berth
Gilas Pilipinas stalwart Garvo Lanete is embracing his role as Hapee Toothpaste's elder stateman in the ongoing playoffs of the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup. Dante Peralta

GARVO Lanete is embracing the role as Hapee Toothpaste’s elder statesman, determined as he is to lead the team to a Finals berth in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup.

Lanete showed the way for 20 points in the Fresh Fighters’ 74-58 win over Café France in Game 1 of their best-of-three semis series that moved the team within arm’s reach of making the championship round right in its rookie season.

Turning 26 a day before Valentine’s Day, Lanete acknowledges he needs to step right now with the Fresh Fighters in the midst of their playoffs campaign.

“Ini-embrace ko naman ‘yung role na ‘yun. Isa ako sa mga beterano sa team. Kailangan ng effort dahil ako ‘yung isa sa mga pinagkakatiwalaan niya (coach Ronnie Magsanoc),” said Lanete, who won five championships with NLEX before the franchise moved to the PBA this season.

Magsanoc said its only common sense for him -- or any coaches for that matter -- to rely on the veteran Lanete at this juncture of the team’s campaign, notwithstanding the inconsistent showing of the former San Beda star during the elimination round.

“Pagdating sa dulo, aasa ka sa beterano. Meron kaming mga tatlong players na at least may three D-League titles. They know what it takes to play (in the playoffs),” said the former PBA great.

Lanete admitted having an on-and-off showing in the elims.

But the long-time Gilas stalwart stressed he was determined to fight off his struggles following the Fresh Fighters’ loss to Cagayan Valley at the end of the eliminations

Lanete actually missed a wide-open three-pointer in the waning second of the game against the Rising Suns as the Fresh Fighters suffered their first loss of the tournament last January 22, 80-77.

“Siguro nag-aadjust pa ako sa sistema pero tiwala naman ako sa sistema ni coach Ronnie. Pero ’yung talo namin sa Cagayan was a big wake-up call. I think we needed that loss to be able to realize our mistakes,” he said.

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“Gusto ko rin bumawi kasi na-miss ko ‘yung last shot ko which was wide open. Even though naging inconsistent ako, I stayed focused and positive,” he said.

Lanete said the Fresh Fighters have also become closer through the course of their campaign, a big edge for the powerhouse squad which boasts some of the emerging stars of Philippine amateur basketball.

“Nag-bobonding na kami as a team dahil bago mag-start ang season, minsan lang kami magkakasama dahil kulang-kulang kami. During breaks, we spent time together,” Lanete disclosed.

Hapee hopes to book a Finals berth on Monday when Game Two of the best-of-three series against Café France is played at The Arena in San Juan.

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