Chico Lanete will not turn his back for the flag and country.
The 44-year-old veteran, who has been calling the shots for Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 squads after his retirement last year, will suit up for Cebu Chooks! in the FIBA 3×3 Sukhbaatar Challenger 2023 in Ulaanbaatar.
Lanete will join CJ Payawal, Isaiah Hontiveros, and Victor Nguidjol in the level 9 tourney, with the top three teams gaining slots to the World Tour Amsterdam Masters from Oct. 6 to 7 in Amsterdam.
Seven-foot import Lenda Douanga was supposed to boost Cebu Chooks!. He has a Mongolian visa but was not able to exit the Bureau of Immigration.
Cebu Chooks! opens its campaign against world No. 9 Miami of the US today at 3:20 p.m. at The National Amusement Park.
The Philippine side winds up its Pool D campaign when it squares off with No. 12 Futian of China at 6:40 p.m. also today.
Lanete last saw action for Manila Chooks! in the World Tour Cebu Masters last year where he was given a fitting sendoff.
Chooks-to-Go President Ronald Mascariñas is convinced Lanete still has what it takes.
“Coach Chico’s return to action will really boost the team’s morale and overall performance on the court. Again, this shows how much he wants to represent our country and make every Filipino proud,” Mascariñas said. “His willingness to come out of retirement and step up exemplifies why we do what we do for Philippine 3×3 basketball.
“Our Olympic dream is very much alive and this tournament in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia will be another stepping for us to reach our goal of seeing another Philippine basketball team donning the flag in the Paris Olympics, the biggest stage in sports,” added the amiable godfather of Philippine 3×3.
The stacked 12-team field also includes No. 3 Antwerp of Belgium, China’s sixth-ranked quartet Beijing, and No. 7 Ulaanbaatar of Mongolia.
At stake in the two-day tilt is a $15,000 prize money for the champion team and a $10,000 reward for the bridesmaid.
The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th runners-up will bring home consolations of US$ 6,000, US$ 5,000, and US$ 4,000, respectively.
Fans can watch the games live on Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas’ Facebook page and the YouTube channel of FIBA 3×3.