In a way, it looks strange to see Paul Lee playing in the Finals for a team that had dealt him a championship heartbreak.
But then, it’s about to happen, as the former Rain or Shine Elasto Painters’ main man will play for former tormentors Magnolia Hotshots for the first time in a championship series that is the 2018 Philippine Cup Finals.
“Hindi naging madali para sa akin kasi bago pa rin ako sa team,” said Lee, who lost to San Mig Coffee back in the 2014 Philippine Cup Finals. “Ito yung first Finals appearance ko kasama bagong teammate[s], bagong coach, bagong team.”
For the six Finals series he played with Rain or Shine, Lee and the Elasto Painters were seen as the underdogs. So it’s nothing new that Lee and Magnolia are the Davids to the league’s Goliath, the San Miguel Beermen.
“Mabigat na kalaban ang San Miguel,” said Lee, a two-time champion.
But even with the disadvantage, the seven-year pro isn’t backing down from the challenge, as they aim to give the reigning Philippine Cup champions a hard time in the best-of-seven series, which will start on Friday, March 23.
“Hindi namin ibibigay basta-basta,” the 29-year-old gunslinger declared.
“Ita-try talaga namin. Tingnan natin kung ano ang magagawa namin.”
For the 6-foot cager, what will separate the Hotshots from the Beermen in this anticipated title bout is their heart and pride, and also the inspiration to rally behind leader Marc Pingris, who’s out for the season due to a torn ACL.
“Puso na yung pinapairal namin dito, at yung pride,” Lee said. “Kahit na wala si Kuya Ping sa team ngayon, yun ang naiwan niya sa amin. Yun ang ginamit namin sa NLEX [nung semifinals] kaya kami nakarating dito.
“Yun ang gagamitin namin against SMB. Feeling ko ‘pag ginusto talaga namin, ‘di malabo na makapanalo kami ng isa hanggang makarating ng apat. Puso lang talaga.”