LISTENING to San Sebastian guard RK Ilagan talk about the 'ligang labas' controversy he got caught up in last season, PBA star Paul Lee could totally relate.
"Hindi naman masama kasi nanggaling din ako doon sa sitwasyon na 'yun," said the Magnolia guard, who grew up in Tondo, Manila before becoming one of the most important stars in the pro league.
Lee said it is very easy for college players to say yes to ligang labas invitations, especially if it came from friends. But the former Best Player of the Conference said it is important to salearn to say no, if you want to reach your dream.
In his case, Lee said he stopped accepting ligang labas invitations in his final year with University of the East in the UAAP.
Saying no, he admitted, required a lot of self-discipline.
"Noong last year ko sa UAAP, I stopped playing na sa ligang labas at mas pinriority ko na yung PBA D-League that time," Lee told The Prospects Pod. "Talagang self-discipline lang talaga kasi sobrang importante ng pahinga sa katawan."
The Gilas Pilipinas mainstay didn't even talk about the grim repercussions, like possible suspensions or, worse, career-ending injuries.
Lee warned that extra-curricular activities like ligang labas games takes a huge toll on a college player's body.
He shared: "Isipin mo, may practice o laro ka sa umaga sa D-League tapos may mga tropang nag-aya sa 'yo lumaro ng ligang labas sa gabi. For sure, alam mo naman kung anong oras natatapos yung laro doon, pinaka-late na yung 1 a.m. Marami kang pwedeng gawin like mag-extra work ka o mag-shooting ka."
It's a matter of setting your priorities, Lee said.
"Kaya ang advice ko lang kung gusto mo talagang makamit 'yung dream mo na maging basketball player sa PBA, kailangan alamin mo yung priorities mo. Mas importante yung tinatrabaho mo ngayon na papunta ka ng PBA. So priorities lang kasi sobrang sayang kung dahil lang sa isang ligang labas, mawawala na ang lahat."
Once a player reaches his goal, Lee said the rewards are far greater.
"Kapag dumating ka sa posisyon ko, 'yung ligang labas nandyan pa rin yan, hindi mawawala yan. Minsan nga ma-invite ka na mag-jump ball ka lang, babayaran ka pa eh. Hindi ka na maglalaro. So know your priorities lang."