MPBL: Veterans Lanete, 42, and Yee, 39 serving as role models for Bicol

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First one in, last one out.

This is how Bicol Volcanoes-LCC Malls head coach Aldin Ayo describes MPBL veteran Mark Yee in practice, as the 39 year-old is still showing incredible work ethic as a professional hoops player.

“He has a different routine,” Ayo said, adding he hopes his younger players can emulate what Yee is doing for their own benefit in the long run.

“He always comes first during practice. Siya rin ang pinakamatagal umalis because of his maintenance, mga ginagawa niya sa katawan, na sana magaya rin ng mga bata kasi that’s the only way to make your career longer — when you take care of your body.”

Already a champion in the MPBL ranks, Yee is impacting the Volcanoes in the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Invitational powered by TM not just in the hardcourt but also behind the scenes, leading by example as the grizzled veteran of the squad.

Alongside him is another elder statesman who attests to Yee’s lead-by-example attitude: 42-year-old Chico Lanete.

“Totoo ‘yung sinasabi ni coach. Pinapakita namin sa kanila na good example kami ni Mark. Hindi naman puwedeng sa amin manggagaling ‘yung masasamang ginagawa (sa court),” Lanete shared. “Magiging professional kami and gina-guide namin ‘yung mga bata.”

Prior to his Volcanoes stint, Lanete played 3×3 basketball with Yee, even representing the Philippines in the FIBA 3×3 World Tour Abu Dhabi Masters.

When brought to the Volcanoes roster, Lanete understood that he and Yee will assume the role of being the old dogs, and they have embraced the challenge confidently.

“Simula nang nasa team kami, sinabihan kami na kami ang magga-guide sa team since kami ang mga kuya and experienced na rin sa laro,” Lanete said.

“‘Yung mga natutunan namin sa pro, ina-apply namin sa mga batang teammates. Good thing naman, ‘yung mga kasama ko, nagre-respond naman at nakikinig nang maayos.”

And a testament to how the two old dogs have been impactful in guiding young players, forward Ralph Tansingco said he has learned a lot of intangibles especially from his “Kuya Mark”.

“‘Yung rebounding tsaka ‘yung drop passes sa ilalim, kasi ang hirap talaga ng rebounding, puwestuhan,” the former Lyceum Pirate said.

“Tsaka si Kuya Mark, palit-mukha talaga. ‘Yun ang laging tinuturo niya sa akin na kapag boxout, pumasok rin ako dahil importante sa amin ang extra possessions.”

The mere presence of Lanete and Yee in practice sessions also inspires their younger counterparts to have no excuses when showing up.

“Mas gaganahan ka pumunta sa practice. Good example ‘yun si Kuya Mark, ang dami na rin niyang experience. Kung ano tinuturo niya sa akin, ginagawa ko. Madami na siyang napagdaanan,” Tansingco added.

For Ayo, there is no question that paying attention to their bodies has been the key to the longevity of both Lanete and Yee.

“They’re setting an example to the young kids … Their commitment to the game. At that age, for them to still be playing, it means they’re taking care of their bodies,” Ayo said.

And this balance between veterans and go-to guys like Mac Tallo, JV Marcelino, Mark Cruz, and Zach Huang has led Bicol to a Group B-leading 3-1 record, already assured of a quarterfinals slot.

Lanete considers till being able to participate in high-level basketball a blessing, given that he is also aware his best years are behind him.

“Every day ko pine-pray ‘yan na bigyan ako ng lakas sa pangangatawan, hindi rin naman ako nagpapabaya sa sarili ko. Hindi ako mapakali kapag walang workout,” Lanete shared. “Andoon ang routine ko. Hindi mawawala sa isang araw na hindi ako magwo-workout.”

In fact, the three-time PBA champion does not intend to stop playing anytime soon, for as long as teams are interested in his services.

Prior to the start of the competition, Ayo also made it clear that the minutes management of the two most experienced pros in his squad is a priority, as it would take them far.

“Simula nang nasa team kami, sinabihan kami na kami ang magga-guide sa team since kami ang mga kuya and experienced na rin sa laro. ‘Yung mga natutunan namin sa pro, ina-apply namin sa mga batang teammates,” Lanete added.

“Good thing naman, ‘yung mga kasama ko, nagre-respond naman at nakikinig nang maayos.”

As Bicol is poised to make a deep run in the tournament, it is obvious that executing Ayo’s system to topnotch quality will be the key to the club’s success.

And the team is fortunate to have Lanete and Yee around to make sure the ship sails seamlessly and in the right direction always.

Laging sinasabi ni coach na kailangan sumunod kami sa sistema dahil hindi puwedeng magkanya-kanya kami. Hindi kami mananalo,” Yee said.

Photos from Chooks-to-Go MPBL

Nguyễn J. Văn Linh (Levi Verora)