FOR the second straight year, Garvo Lanete goes into the PBA Rookie Draft shrouded in uncertainty.
In last year's draft, Lanete was already foreseen to land in the Top 5 side by side with Stanley Pringle, Kevin Alas, Chris Banchero, and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser when he decided to pull out at the last minute.
This year, Lanete enters the draft while saddled with a swollen meniscus in his left knee which he sustained in Hapee's finals clash against Cagayan Valley in the first conference of the last D-League season.
"Syempre malungkot rin kahit papano kasi once in a lifetime lang tayo mag-gaganito (rookie camp) eh," said Lanete, who was reduced into a spectator during the first day of the PBA Rookie Camp at the Gatorade Hoops Center.
Asked if he is not worried that the injury has devalued his worth and knocked him off the list of top rookie prospects, Lanete stressed he is more confident with himself now more than ever.
"Hindi ko na masyado iniisip 'yun, ang importante mas excited ako ngayon kesa last year kasi," he said.
"Na-feel ko lang na mas ready ako ngayon, although may injury ako," said the former San Beda Red Lion. "Hindi ko na iniisip yung (Top 5) ayaw kong mag-expect eh. Basta ako gusto ko lang mag-PBA, gusto ko lang makapaglaro."
Informed of past amateur standouts who lost their edge after delaying their jump to the pro ranks, the Gilas Pilipinas cadet is unperturbed.
"Hindi naman siguro, as long as you keep on working hard, you keep on improving. Hindi naman siguro (mangyayari sa akin yung ganun), as a player you need to keep working and stay healthy," said Lanete.
Among the top collegiate stars who struggled to find a niche in the PBA after prolonging their amateur stints were Gerard Jones and even former MBA star Romel Adducul, who never enjoyed the same success in the PBA.
The 6-5 former FEU star Jones was already anticipated to land in the Top 5 of the 2005 draft after leading the Tamaraws to a second straight championship in the UAAP, only to decide to stay longer in the PBL with Magnolia.
"Sayang din si Jones, magaling 'yun eh, malakas na power forward. Parang Jervy Cruz na may hustle. Kaso na-injure siya sa PBL. Ngayon nasa Guam na siya. Hindi na nagbabasketball," said Jones' former FEU teammate Leo Avenido.
"Minsan kasi pag time mo na sa PBA, dinelay mo pa, pwedeng hindi ka na mahintay ng mga team. Sabi nga opportunity only knocks once. Tignan mo si Terrence (Romeo), hit na name niya sa UAAP, nagpa-draft. Ang daming nag-agawan sa kanya," added the former ABL MVP.
With his injury preventing him from seeing action in the rookie camp, Lanete is optimistic he has shown enough in his previous stints with the national team and in the NCAA and D-League to get the attention of teams.
"Expected ko naman ma-da-draft ako, hindi ko lang alam kung pang ilan. Pero excited na 'ko," he said.