Paul Lee doesn’t mind the scoring decline since defense has become his primary focus in Magnolia’s PBA Philippine Cup semifinal battle versus TNT.
“Kailangan ko talagang tanggapin ‘yung ganung sitwasyon sa akin ngayon, kasi talagang binibigay ko ‘yung effort ko sa depensa. Kasi, ‘yun ‘yung mas important sa’min ngayon,” said the one-time Best Player of the Conference,
The 33-year-old hasn’t been the usual offensively with only 28 points to his name across the series’ first three games – an output he can easily attain in one outing. Instead, he’s trying to limit Tropang Giga counterpart Roger Pogoy.
It all began when the former national team mainstay turned in 23 points on a 46.7-percent clip alongside five assists. That then helped the flagship MVP Group franchise take Game One last Wednesday by way of a 108-96 victory.
“Kasi first game, pumutok si RR, sobrang ganda ng laro niya. Chinallenge lang ako ng mga coach namin,” said Lee.
And Lee has been doing his assignment commendably. He helped limit Pogoy to just 11 points in Game Two, and only allowed the 2017 Rookie of the Year to score a measly seven points in Game Three on Sunday.
“I think ‘yun ‘yung pinaka maitutulong ko rito sa series na ‘to,” he said.
“I think ‘yun ‘yung kailangan ko maitulong talaga ngayon, ‘yun defense.”
Unfortunately, Pogoy and TNT had the last laugh in Game Three as they took a 93-92 win to build a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Lee lamented missing the services of Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang late in the match as both of his fellow stars fouled out.
“That’s big kasi alam naman natin na sila yung tumatapos ng laro sa’min, sa big man spot. Sobrang bigat nun,” said the 11-year veteran, who finished with nine points on 11 shots and four rebounds in 30 minutes.
The Hotshots still had an opportunity even without the two when Mark Barroca’s lay-up gave them the 92-90 lead with 9.8 seconds left, but Jayson Castro dashed their hopes when he hit a triple to win it for the Tropa.
Tough, indeed, to lose in such a manner but Lee and the rest of his squad are keeping their heads up heading into Game Four.
“Wala na kaming masasabi roon kasi we gave everything we got. Hanggang dulo nag-grind out kami especially on defense. Proud pa rin si Coach Chito [Victolero] kasi yun lang naman ‘yung ano namin, na magkaroon kami ng chance,” he said.
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.