The Star Hotshots will have to battle through the 2017 Governor’s Cup semifinals shorthanded, as Paul Lee has been ruled out for the season due to a slight meniscus tear, as confirmed by Lee and coach Chito Victolero on Tuesday night.
“Paul is out for the series,” Victolero revealed moments after the Hotshots’ 74-98 loss to the Meralco Bolts in Game Two of their best-of-five semifinal clash.
The said injury had been hampering the Lethal Weapon for the entire conference, but was aggravated during Game One of the series this past Sunday in Biñan, Laguna, where Star lost, 72-66, due to a late-game collapse.
“Yung dati pa rin na injury. Last game [na aggravate]. Pinipilit ko lang last game, nilaro ko lang pero ‘di ko na rin kaya,” admitted the 28-year-old combo guard, who only managed to finish with 11 markers in the series opener.
But it was in Game Two that the pain brought by the tear in his left knee proved unbearable, that he could not play through it any longer.
“Pag-quick move ko kanina nung first quarter may naramdaman na ako,” said the six-year veteran, who only played a total of three minutes and 44 seconds and only had a single shot attempt.
For Lee, he believes it is likely his injury returned because of the playoffs’ schedule, which has always had a tiresome format from the quarterfinals up until the semis, where games are played every other day.
“Sunud-sunod na rin kasi mga laro namin so sabi ng PT (Physical Therapist) namin expect na natin yan,” said Lee, who is averaging 13.23 points, 3.46 rebounds, and 2.77 assists this conference.
With Lee’s absence, Star’s chances of making it to the conference finals have become even slimmer — they are now down 0-2 to the Bolts in the race-to-three affair. And with that, Victolero hopes that his other wards will step up in these tough times.
“Everybody now needs to step up.”