Backup guard Chico Lanete finally savored the sweet feeling of capturing a PBA championship as a member of the San Miguel Beermen, who ruled the Philippine Cup Finals against the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok last Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The former Lyceum standout actually had multiple chances to win one earlier in his career. In fact, Lanete made the finals in his first PBA conference when the Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants faced the Sta. Lucia Realtors for the 2007-08 Philippine Cup title.
The 38-year-old Lanete ended a string of fruitless seasons in a pro career that began in 2007 when the Beermen finished off the Hotshots with a stunning comeback from 23 points down in the third to claim a 108-99 double overtime victory.
What made things sweeter was that Lanete almost ended up without a team after the Phoenix Fuel Masters left him on the free agent market after the 2016-17 campaign.
A call from the Beermen prior to the start of the Philippine Cup gave Lanete another chance.
"Nung wala akong team, naisip ko, hindi na siguro ako makakatikim ng championship ever," said Lanete. "Pero nung time na tumawag SMB sa akin, nagkaroon ako ng chance na 'Uy, baka may chance na ko kako kasi siyempre San Miguel e."
Purefoods eventually lost in seven games.
His second finals appearance came in the 2009 Fiesta Conference, this time as a member of the Barangay Ginebra Kings. But the Kings fell to the Beermen in the series that also went the maximum seven games.
It took another four years before Lanete would appear in another finals series, but the Petron Blaze Boosters were beaten by the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers in a seven-game thriller for the 2013 Governors' Cup crown.
Lanete was a bit player during San Miguel's run at a fourth straight Philippine Cup, though he was best remembered for hitting a go-ahead three in the Beermen's come-from-behind 77-76 win over the Hotshots in early-February at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.(JT)