Paul Lee returns to lethal form for PBA Finals

MANILA, Philippines – After spending most of the season recovering from a left knee injury, Paul Lee has finally returned to his old lethal form to lead Rain or Shine to a 2-0 series edge over Alaska in the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals.

The 27-year-old came up clutch in Game 2 Sunday, May 8, as he buried the game-winning jumper in the dying seconds, saving the Painters from a potential overtime affair for a 105-103 win.

Binwenas lang ako (I just got lucky),” Lee said after the game, as Rain or Shine moved within two wins of its first title since 2012.

Masaya kasi nakabalik na ako. Perfect timing yung nangyari no’ng semifinals. Sana magtuluy-tuloy,” Lee added, pertaining to his injury. (I’m happy I’m back. The timing of what happened in the semifinals was just perfect. I hope this continues.)

Call it luck or just playing smart. Lee was alone under the basket when teammate Beau Belga missed a triple from the left corner. Lee caught the ball on the rebound and quickly drained the jumper with exactly two ticks left on the clock.

Rain or Shine’s go-to-guy saved the day once more.

“Just like in Game 1, he’s back to his leadership role,” coach Yeng Guiao said. 

Lee recorded 17 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists in the win.

The first two games of the best-of-7 showdown have so far become the Paul Lee show, as he unleashed a conference-best of 20 points in the opener, carrying his team to a 105-97 victory.

“It’s a tough win but it’s a treat for the fans. It’s a nice game to watch. It’s getting tougher every game as I’ve said. Game 1 was tough and Game two’s a lot tougher and Game 3’s going to be tougher,” Guiao added.  

That's not to say Paul Lee didn't have support from his perennial contender team.

“A lot of players stepped up when we needed them. Jewel Ponferada stepped up. Jericho (Cruz) stepped up, Beau stepped up. And of course, Paul again, back to his old form," said Guiao.

Jeff Chan also finished with 17 points while Ponferada, Belga, and Cruz all had 14 markers each. 

Despite the series lead Guiao recognizes the ability of Alaska to bounce back. He will make sure his team is prepared to finish the series strong, and hopefully with a championship trophy in tow.

“They know they’re a good team, they know their system works, they know they can come back," he said. "We also know that that’s why we should try harder in Game 3.” –