MANILA, Philippines – Paul Lee is no stranger to breaking opponents' hearts, specifically against Alaska in the finals.
The newly crowned Best Player of the Conference sank a game-winner as Magnolia hacked out a 79-78 win over the Aces on Friday, December 14, and moved one win away from clinching the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup title.
Off a Romeo Travis blocked shot, Lee secured the offensive board from near the three-point line, stopped from within 15 feet on the right baseline and drilled in a jumper with 1.3 seconds left to seal the win that gave the Hotshots a 3-2 series lead.
Coincidentally, it was from the same spot where he hit a game-winning shot against the Aces in Game 2 of the 2016 Commissioner's Cup finals back when he was still with Rain or Shine.
With the offensive board landing in his hands following Beau Belga's missed triple, Lee beat the buzzer with a jumper from the right baseline to give the Elasto Painters a 105-103 win. Rain or Shine won the finals affair, 4-2.
It was a shot that Alaska head coach Alex Compton still has not forgotten.
"Back when they (Rain or Shine) beat us in the finals, Paul hit a buzzer-beater, it's almost the exact same spot," Compton told reporters after the game.
"I'm going to have to put something slippery on the floor there in the endgame for Paul. Again, he's got that spot against us, but I can't say anything."
For Lee, who finished with a double-double of 11 points and 10 boards – highlighted by the crucial rebound and the game-winner – it's all about taking a chance on what could have been a dead play.
"'Yung small details na ganoon, 'yung mga 50-50 ball, 'yun 'yung mga nagpapanalo ng laro. Nakuha and then na-convert ko, so it gave us a win," Lee said.
(The small details, the 50-50 balls, those are what win games. I got the rebound and I converted the shot so we won.)
"I won't give up in any play hanggang walang pito or 'di stop 'yung game. 'Yun naman tinuro sa amin from the start: hanggang 'di pumipito or walang dead ball, tuloy-tuloy lang."
(I won't give up in any play as long as there is no whistle. That's what we've been taught from the start: play continues if there is no whistle or dead ball.)
Lee and the Hotshots seek to close out the best-of-seven series in Game 6 on Wednesday, December 19, at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City. – 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.