Paul Lee begged to differ with the notion that his extremely limited playing time greatly affected Magnolia in its Game Three loss to Ginebra, which ultimately put the crew in a dangerous position in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semis.
For the star guard, who saw action for just two minutes and 15 seconds due to flu-like symptoms, the Hotshots simply shot themselves in the foot.
“Actually, we beat ourselves,” Lee lamented moments after the deflating 103-80 defeat, Sunday night at the Philsports Arena in Pasig. “Lumabas kami sa mga pinapagawa ni Coach Chito [Victolero].
“‘Yun lang, ‘yun siguro nakita ko kanina,” he continued.
“‘Di kami makapag-execute sa offense, so nadamay ‘yung depensa namin.”
Kings head coach Tim Cone offered that Lee sitting out essentially the entire match ‘took the wind off their sails,’ leading to the most lopsided result of the series to date after down-the-wire finishes in the first two matches.
“I think that Paul Lee’s injury took the wind off their sails. It’s hard to make in-game adjustments when you lose your star player. And he really has been their star,” said the league’s winningest mentor.
“He’s really giving us fits,” he added. “We can’t locate him, and when we do he finds somebody else. It’s been a really tough road for us trying to contain Paul. He obviously made the big shot last game.”
Lee has indeed made life harder for the crowd darlings, most especially in Game Two last Friday that saw him frustrate their long-time rivals through a buzzer-beating leaner to deliver the 96-95 victory that evened the series.
Unfortunately, flu-like symptoms threw a monkey wrench in his and Magnolia’s plans of scoring a repeat over the Barangay.
“Nilalagnat ako since last night so medyo masama pakiramdam ko. Headache at fever. Kanina tinry ko kung ano feeling sa loob pero nahihilo ako, para akong babagsak sa floor,” said the 33-year-old, who scored 24 last game.
Test results came out negative and brought a bit of good news for the rest of the team, but Lee just could not play through it as much as he wanted.
“Nung nakaramdam na ako ng mga symptoms, nag-test ako kaagad. Kagabi, negative naman. Tapos nagtest ako kaninang umaga, negative naman.
“And then nag-test ako dito, negative pa din naman. So I think ‘yung sa weather na din natin kaya, ayun,” said the 11-year veteran.
If anything, Game Four is still on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena, giving Lee two days to recover as he hopes to be at full strength in their do-or-die.
“I think we have enough time to recover and then makapag-prepare kami ng maayos, may two days preparation,” the three-time PBA champion said.
“Sana tumama ‘yung gameplan na gagawin namin.”
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.