MANILA, Philippines — At 41 years old, Chico Lanete is a "rookie-veteran" in 3x3.
A 12-year veteran of the fullcourt game, Lanete has established his reputation in 5-on-5 before transitioning to the halfcourt version.
On Sunday night, he played his best 3x3 game so far, helping Butuan City-Uling Roasters rule the third leg of the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 President's Cup.
But while his younger teammates — Franky Johnson, Chris De Chavez, JR Alabanza, and Karl Dehesa — celebrated on the court, the playing coach sat down and held a bag of ice over his head instead.
"Wala na akong lakas nun. Totoo," said Lanete, after scoring eight points in their 21-20 win over the determined Pasig-Sta. Lucia Realtors.
"After ng game, inisip ko lang na sana, may makita akong ice, may makita akong upuan," added the oldest player in the 3x3 league. "Binigay ko lahat kasi may goal kami."
It wasn't just in the championship round where Butuan City's playing coach gave it his all. Throughout the third leg, he was turning back time.
"Pinapakita ko rin na kaya ko pa. I'm sure, marami dyan, nagsasabi, 'Uy, matanda na yan! Kaya natin yan,'" Lanete said.
"Pero pinu-prove ko sa kanila na parang, 'Uy! Hindi pa! Teka lang, nandito pa ako,'" he added.
While foes and fans may have doubts that the Lyceum of the Philippines University legend can still keep up, his Uling Roasters teammates have never lost faith.
Johnson, in particular, felt the championship was in the bag because of Lanete.
"I seen it in Kuya Chico's eyes. I can tell he wasn't losing. He wanted it more today. It was his day today," said Johnson.
It was no surprise Johnson (26 years old), De Chavez (31), Alabanza (33), and Dehesa (33) followed their veteran's lead in their triumphant Leg 3, as on and off the court, Lanete has been Butuan City's leader.
"Sinasabi ko lagi sa kanilang bigyan natin ng time ang extra work out. Ako kasi, nakikita nila na nagwo-work out talaga ako, inaalagaan ko talaga katawan ko," he said.
"Sabi ko sa kanila, kung kaya ko, kaya rin nila. Pinapaalala ko lagi na keep working hard lang dahil alam kong may papatunayan pa sila."