Though he won the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup Best Player of the Conference plum, Paul Lee has struggled in the first four games of the Finals.
During the first four games, the 6-foot guard known as the Lethal Weapon averaged just 9.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game – far from his pre-finals norms of 17.64 points, 4.43 rebounds, and 3.14 assists.
And the seven-year veteran would be the first to admit that it has been a struggle to find open looks.
“Struggle ako buong series offensively,” admitted the two-time PBA champion.
“Good thing lagi sinasabi ng coaches ko, ‘Good shot, papasok din ‘yan.'”
Having a good support from the back-end, Lee’s confidence never wavered. And in the big moments, he was there in the right place and at the right time.
With 11.4 ticks left and Alaska up by a solitary point, Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero designed a play to get Romeo Travis in the paint.
“It was a chance for Romeo to go to the basket,” recalled Victolero.
But the Aces knew the play, clogging the paint. As a result, Travis’ shot was swatted away by Mike Harris.
As the ball flew through the air, Kevin Racal dove for the ball, trying to tap it to the other end of the court. Right at that moment, Lee snatched the ball from Racal’s fingertips. From there, Lee ran to the baseline, freeing himself up for a jumper with 1.3 ticks to spare.
“Although na-block yung shot niya, nakuha ni Paul,” added an exasperated Victolero.
“It was just God’s will.”
“Down kami so yung small details na ganun, yun yung nagpapanalo ng laro,” added Lee.
On the other end, Harris could not get a good clean up, as Magnolia picked up the series advantage, 79-78.
Lee wound up with 11 points, 10 rebounds, and two dimes. And he was grateful that his struggles ended up being worth it.
“Ang bait talaga ni Lord. Nasa kanila na, naka-block si Harris pero nakuha pa namin,” expressed Lee.
“Wala akong puwede pang hilingin pa. Thank you kay Lord.”