SAMAHANG Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Manny V. Pangilinan became an instant Paul Lee fan in the wake of the combo guard’s heroics in Gilas Pilipinas’ bronze medal-clinching win over China, 80-79, in Saturday’s Fiba-Asia Cup in Wuhan, China.
Pangilinan lauded Lee’s impressive performance in the tournament, most especially the three free throws he made with no time left that won for the country the battle for third place against the host country.
“In fairness to Paul Lee, he’s been a huge benefit to the national team. He played well in Wuhan,” said Pangilinan, who turned 68 last week.
The chairman of PLDT said he watched the game intently on television and was actually just hoping for the game to go into overtime when Lee was given three free throws after being fouled in the act of shooting in the game’s final play and Gilas trailing the Chinese, 79-77.
“Ako, ang hope ko lang mag-overtime. But he (Lee) made it all three (free throws), which is obviously ayos,” the soft-spoken sportsman-businessman said with a big smile when he graced the Fiba 3x3 World Tour Manila Masters at the SM Megamall.
“That (three free throws) was a stroke of luck.”
Pangilinan is set to welcome the entire Gilas Pilipinas team on Monday, marking the start of a busy week for the nationals as they will be going up against a team of NBA stars on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The SBP president is credited for bringing the 12-man NBA stars led by Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin and Indiana Pacers star Paul George to Manila for the benefit game against Gilas, dubbed the `PLDT Last Home Stand.’
The `Last Home Stand’ is part of Gilas Pilipinas’ ongoing buildup for the Fiba-World Cup in Spain and the the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, slated this August and September, respectively.