BY his own count, Meralco is the ninth stop in KG Canaleta’s never-ending journey in his 12-year PBA career.
And make no mistake about it, he’s keeping his fingers crossed the Bolts will be the final stop for him before he finally decides to hang up his sneakers.
He’s not out to become the first-ever player to play for each of the league's 12 member teams.
“Mahirap yun,” he said in between laughs when SPIN.ph teased him about it. “Ang sa akin naman, kung saan ako talaga, kung hindi man dito ako magtagal, maglalaro pa rin ako ng maayos hanggang kaya ko.”
For almost a month before the league’s 43rd season kicked off, Canaleta, 35, found himself without a team as his camp and former team Blackwater failed to reach an agreement on a new contract, so much so that a stint in a league in Thailand was considered as his next option.
That was until he tried to make one final try and fight for a slot in Meralco’s roster.
When everything was uncertain yet, Canaleta posted on his Instagram account a collage of photos showing him in action wearing the jerseys of teams he previously played for.
“Naisipan ko lang i-post, kasi that time, wala pa akong sure na team,” said the high-flying forward and many-time slamdunk champion from University of the East. “So yung post ko parang sinasabi, saan naman ang next?”
Good thing he managed to keep all eight jerseys of his teams as part of his personal collection, namely Air21 – which drafted him sixth overall in the 2005 draft – B-Meg (now Magnolia), Barangay Ginebra, TnT Katropa, NLEX, Mahindra (now KIA), Globalport, and Blackwater. He played the longest for the Express, from 2005 to 2009.
“Meron akong kahit tag-isa (na piraso) sa mga naging teams ko,” he disclosed. “Naitago ko naman kahit paano.”
So far, the only teams Canaleta hasn’t played for are Alaska, San Miguel, Rain or Shine, and Phoenix.
As one of the most traded players in the 43-year history of the league, Canaleta said he doesn’t get tired plying his services from one franchise to another.
It’s the adjustment of having to fit to a new system and bond with new teammates which KG has to always get used to.
“Hindi naman (napapagod na palipat-lipat), kasi iisang court pa rin naman yung pinaglalaruan namin,” he said. “Nakakapagod lang yung pakikisama, kasi napamahal ka na sa mga teammates mong ito, tapos lilipat na naman. Bagong sistema, bagong pakikisama.
“Although hindi naman ako nahihirapan sa pakikisama, lahat naman nakakasundo ko.”
So far, so good, KG said he’s adjusted well playing for Norman Black, for whom he briefly played for while with TnT Katropa.
In the two games he suited up for the Bolts as a starter in the Philippine Cup, the 6-foot-6 Canaleta averaged 21 points, including a game-high 25 points in his Meralco debut - a 103-98 win over his former team Blackwater.
He also averaged 9.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and shot 8-of-13 from three-point range for a high 60 percent shooting.
Although it’s still too early in the season to say if the partnership will be for good, Canaleta is keeping his fingers crossed that hopefully, it does.
“Sana ito na yung last stop ko,” he stressed. “Maganda naman 'yung organization. Sana mapangalagaan ko ito hanggang sa mag-retire ako.”
Otherwise, it’s on to the next journey for KG.