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Tiebreaker Times


Leadership of still-recovering Paul Lee proves to be the difference for Hotshots

Paul Lee was relieved that he had finally returned to the court for the Magnolia Hotshots, ending his lengthy three-game absence due to a sprained ankle that he incurred back in January 27 in a 91-83 victory over the TNT Katropa.

The 29-year-old guard didn’t play as if he was coming off an injury, as he produced 13 points, three rebounds, and three assists in over 23 minutes to help the Hotshots topple the GlobalPort Batang Pier, 96-81, to halt their two-game slide.

“Very happy na at least kahit papano nakatulong na tayo sa team,” said Lee after the match at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

“Sobrang saya lang kasi after two-game losing streak naka-bounce back kami ng maganda.

“Ginawan namin ng paraan talaga para makuha ‘tong panalo na ‘to,” the seven-year pro added, as Magnolia came back from eight points down in the third en route to the win.

Despite giving Lee limited time, second year Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero believes that Lee’s presence alone was a huge difference — something they have missed in their last two outings.

“Yung presence lang niya malaking tulong na,” lauded Victolero.

“Plus, yung kanyang basketball IQ. Nakatulong talaga yung presence niya and leadership.”

However, Lee clarified that he has yet to reach 100 percent.

“May iniinda pa rin ako,” the 6-foot guard admitted. “Dala lang siguro ng adrenaline yung kanina. Siyempre, three games din ako nawala so parang hyped ako sa laro. Medyo excited. Ngayon nararamdaman ko na makirot lang siya ulit.”

Lee has ample time to heal, as their next match is still next Saturday, February 24, against the Meralco Bolts in Cagayan De Oro City. However, the former UE Red Warriors star doesn’t want to be too confident that he can heal on time.

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“‘Di naman sinasabi na.. Alam mo yun. Siyempre sprain yan, day-to-day pa rin tayo,” said Lee, who is averaging 16.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.0 assists so far. “‘Di natin alam ano mangyayari satin kinabukasan or what.

“So ingat lang din tsaka alaga lang. Tuloy lang therapy.”

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