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Tiebreaker Times

2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

Hurt thumb won’t stop Paul Lee from attending Gilas practice

Even a thumb injury will not stop Paul Lee from fulfilling his commitment to Gilas Pilipinas.

The Magnolia guard reassured as much, saying that he will still report to the Nationals’ training on Monday at the Meralco Gym ahead of the upcoming sixth and last window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers later this month.

“Oo, pupunta pa rin ako.

“Makiki-takbo para nasa kundisyon pa rin ako, tapos makikisali sa play sets. Pero baka hindi muna sa contact drills,” said Lee, who sustained the thumb injury in practice.

“Hindi naman (siguro matagal). Siguro within a week, puwede na ulit. Hopefully, huwag lang matamaan talaga,” he added. His thumb had been hit once more early in the third period of the Hotshots’ thrilling 2019 PBA Philippine Cup match against TNT, Sunday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Lee – who averaged 7.0 points per game during the last window – is expected to show up tomorrow for the full strength training camp of Gilas, with naturalized player Andray Blatche finally on board for the first time.

Blatche, who arrived last Friday, and Lee will be joined by June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, John Paul Erram, Troy Rosario, Marcio Lassiter, Raymond Almazan, Jayson Castro, Roger Pogoy, Scottie Thompson, Mark Barroca, and Thirdy Ravena in their first practice together. There are a little over two weeks before their crucial road games against Qatar and Kazakhstan on February 21 and 24, respectively.

As for the Hotshots’ camp, the absence of Lee – who only played for 13 minutes – proved costly. They dropped a narrow 75-80 overtime loss to the KaTropa in their Philippine Cup debut.

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The UE product admitted he was disappointed, especially coming off a Best Player of the Conference win and a championship in the Governors’ Cup. But he opted to look at the positives, pointing out that his injury isn’t major.

“Of course, disappointed kasi first game eh. Pero yung nga sinabi sa amin, hindi naman made-determine dito sa talo na ito yung buong conference at buong season,” he said.

“Good thing, we have one more week to prepare against San Miguel. So hopefully, lahat ng nararamdaman maging okay.”

Lee and the Hotshots look to bounce back against sister team and rivals San Miguel Beermen on February 10 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

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