MANILA, Philippines – How would Yeng Guiao react?
That was in the head of Paul Lee after firing blanks in Magnolia Hotshots' 87-88 Game 1 loss to the NLEX Road Warriors in their best-of-7 semifinals series.
Lee scored just 8 points on a 3-of-10 shooting to go with 3 rebounds and 3 assists against 5 turnovers last March 10, primarily because of NLEX head coach Guiao's defensive schemes against him.
Lee and Guiao have worked together for 5 years when they were still part of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. To this day, they have been vocal about their deep regard for each other.
So after a dismal night, the 29-year-old Lee, as a form of motivation, imagined how Guiao would behave regarding his performance if they were still together.
"Of course, mapapagalitan niya (Guiao) ako. So syempre, ganoon din naiisip ng mga coaching staff namin, kailangan lang talaga magbounce back kasi very big game 'tong Game 2 sa amin. Kailangan maka-even kami sa series na 'to," said Lee.
(Of course, he would scold me. Of course, that is what our coaching staff would think, that we needed to bounce back since this Game 2 is very big for us. We need to even this series.)
The spitfire guard did bounce back. He finished with 27 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals in Magnolia's 99-84 win on Monday, March 12, that leveled the series at 1-1.
Unlike in Game 1 where he did not find his rhythm at all after being hounded by Guiao's myriad of guards, Lee torched the Road Warriors in Game 2 from the get-go, scoring 10 points in the maiden period before dropping his 15 points the final two quarters.
But Lee said he has yet to decode Guiao's tactics against him.
"Actually, 'di pa naman nasolve kasi di pa naman tapos 'yung series. Natie pa lang namin sa 1-1 so ayun, ready lang kami for next game."
(Actually, I still have not solved it since the series is not over. We just tied it at 1-1 and we will be ready for next game.)
Game 3 of the series is on Wednesday, March 14, at the Araneta Coliseum and Lee is expected to provide the needed leadership Magnolia is missing from Marc Pingris, who will be sidelined for 6 to 8 months due to an ACL injury. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.