CEBU CITY – With the glut of guards that the NLEX Road Warriors have on their roster, Garvo Lanete may have just carved out a niche for himself after his heads-up play against the Meralco Bolts in the finals of the Recoletos Invitational Cup on Friday night.
With the game hanging in the balance and his team trailing, 83-85, in overtime, Lanete went berserk and scored 14 of NLEX’s 15 points in a veritable one-man show that led the Road Warriors to the 98-94 win.
He first made a triple to put NLEX in front for good, 86-85, followed by another for a five-point Road Warriors lead. Meralco pulled to within two, 88-90, but Lanete shut the door on the Bolts with a layup and six straight free throws.
“I just kept playing lang and took the open shots that were available and play defense as well. I’m just glad sinuwerete ako sa overtime last night at napasok ko yung mga tira at crucial free throws ko,” said Lanete, the sixth pick of the 2015 PBA rookie draft.
Lanete, who battled injuries in his rookie season, faces a battle for minutes in his sophomore year with four other guards on the NLEX roster, namely Emman Monfort, Kevin Alas, Jonas Villanueva and the newly-acquired Carlo Lastimosa.
But he got a vote on confidence from new head coach Yeng Guiao, who feels Lanete is a perfect fit for what he envisions to accomplish this season.
“Garvo (Lanete) is tailor made for the system that we run. He can drive to the basket and has good range from the outside. He's smart and steady. He's a combo guard able to play the one or the two," said the former Rain or Shine coach.
"I’m also happy with his defense because of the energy he brings and the ability to contain his man.”
Lanete, however, is not looking that far ahead, simply happy for now that the Road Warriors were able to turn things around after a horrendous first half that saw them fall behind by as much as 20.
“Na-late kami kasi sobrang traffic so konting time lang mag warm-up. Tight kaming lahat nung first half. Then nung second half, we got our feet back and we focused on getting stops and our goal was ibaba yung lamang to under 10 at the end of third. But lucky enough natabla namin entering the fourth,” Lanete said.
NLEX appeared to have the win in the bag until Meralco’s Baser Amer canned a desperation three-pointer as time expired to tie the game at 83-all.
In spite of the good early returns for NLEX in the new Guiao era, Lanete vowed to keep on learning their new system.
“We're adapting and embracing the system really well. Not perfect yet, but we will keep working on it,” Lanete said.
But for now, it's time for some well-deserved rest and relaxation for Lanete and his teammates as they are proceeded to a posh resort in Lapu-Lapu before flying back to Manila on Saturday night.