The Star Hotshots were on the verge of being turned back and stunned by the Alaska Aces Wednesday night. But their character as a unit shone when needed, helping them climb back from 21 points down en route to the victory.
And for top guard Paul Lee, it was the Hotshots’ cohesion that made wonders.
“We stayed together, we trusted each other.
“Kasi end of the day naman kayo-kayo lang magkakasama. Ayun nangyari naman, tiwala kami sa isa’t-isa, sa sistema ni coach,” Lee proudly shared after their 102-98 victory.
In the come-from-behind finish, the 6-foot-2 combo guard played an instrumental role with 18 points despite shooting 5-of-13 from the floor. But his last basket, a long three-pointer, proved to be one of the game’s final blows.
With Alaska inching by a point, 94-93, the 28-year-old unleashed a cold-blooded triple to widen Star’s lead, 97-93, with 1:32 left. But it wasn’t just an ordinary trey — Lee launched the shot steps behind the three-point line.
“Kumpiyansa naman ako dun sa tira na yun kasi pina-practice ko naman siya,” said Lee of that shot.
“Ginagawa ko naman sa practice yung mga ganun kasi may darating na time na ganyan, shot clock winding down, baka kailangan mo na talaga itira pag ganun.
“At least kahit papaano may pina-practice ka,” added Lee, who was averaging 11.9 points prior to Wednesday.
But most importantly, the Hotshots went home with the win. The team, for now, is sitting atop the standings with a 9-2 card, a huge boost to their confidence as they head into the real challenge that is the playoffs.
“Siyempre mataas yung morale namin lalo na yung ganitong klase ng panalo,” said the proud son of Tondo, Manila. “Kailangan namin yung mga ganitong games going to the playoffs. Kasi kanina na-test yung character namin eh. Yun malaking bagay talaga.
“Basta kung sino yung sa’min na makakalaban namin, yun ang paghahandaan namin.”