Paul Lee admitted that he is still working to regain his old form following an injury early in the 2021 Honda PBA Philippine Cup.
The 32-year-old hurt his hamstring in the Hotshots’ win over Terrafirma last July 30 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig. It was a dampener, since he was averaging 19.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.3 assists before going down.
Lee, though, had ample time to recover from the injury when the league had to pause operations when Metro Manila reverted back to Enhanced Community Quarantine. But the star gunslinger still struggled when play resumed in Bacolor, he admitted.
“Personal goal ko unang-una, mabalik ko ‘yung tamang kundisyon ko” said the cager from Tondo. “Simula nung na-injury ako, parang roller-coaster yung laro ko. May araw na sobrang bigat ng pakiramdam ko.”
While he was scoring in double figures in the conference resumption, his shooting percentage saw a big drop. After hitting 50-percent in a loss to Meralco, Lee could not emulate such in their next games.
Across five games where the Hotshots won thrice, the former no. 2 overall pick shot just 16-of-60 from the floor. That came out to a measly 26.6-percent clip.
Still, Lee kept the faith. And on Sunday, he finally broke out of the tough stretch to power his crew past San Miguel Beer in a battle of powerhouses.
The three-time champion erupted for 32 points, including 18 in the final period. And he took over to steer Magnolia to a 100-90 victory.
Per league stats chief Fidel Mangonon III, it was the most points in a quarter this conference by any player; or since Matthew Wright also had 18 in the third canto of a 102-101 loss to TNT in Game Four of last year’s All-Filipino semis.
“‘Yun, kumapit lang ako,” said Lee, who shot 9-of-15 from the field and also had five assists, four rebounds, and a steal in 26 minutes.
“And I will continue to work hard para mabalik ko yung kundisyon ko talaga.”
Lee was left satisfied with how he and the Hotshots performed that led to a fitting end to their elimination round campaign. Now, he hopes that they could all do it consistently as they gear up for the playoffs.
“Siguro wala naman ng kailangang baguhin dun sa ginawa namin overall, offense and defense. Sobrang okay yung ginawa namin. Yung gameplan namin, nasunod lahat,” the 10-year vet offered.
“Siguro, yung pinaka-kailangan lang namin gawin is yung pagiging consistent lang namin. Kasi kung gagawin namin ng isa, dalawang beses, tatlong beses sa game, bakit hindi naman magawa the whole game?” the product of University of the East continued.
“So for me, ‘yung pagiging consistent lang ‘yung kailangan namin talagang gawin sa laro.”