THE Paul Lee trade saga has just taken a very interesting twist.
On Tuesday, no less than San Miguel Corp. big boss Ramon S. Ang denied to Spin.ph that any of the three PBA teams under the conglomerate's umbrella is going after the wantaway Rain or Shine star.
“We are not in talks with anybody about (Paul) Lee,” was the short but meaty response of Ang to a Spin.ph question on whether the organization is pursuing the Gilas Pilipinas guard.
Accusing fingers have been pointed at the San Miguel Beer group since Lee came out with his wish to be traded by Rain or Shine - his team in his first three seasons in the pro league.
Fanning the flames was a revelation by Rain or Shine officials that Noli Eala, formerly SMC's sports director, made an approach regarding Lee toward the end of last season.
Suspicion about SMC's interest in Lee only heightened when San Miguel Beer passed up on point guard Chris Banchero in the last rookie draft, with fans concluding that the Beermen were already preparing for Lee's arrival.
Ang, however, said the SMC organization has no plan to go after the former Rookie of the Year awardee.
“No plans (to go after Lee once his contract ends),” the enigmatic team owner told Spin.ph.
Ang issued the denial two days after the head of Smart Sports, Patrick Gregorio, told Spin.ph that no one among the three teams controlled by Ang's business rival, Manny V. Pangilinan, is after Lee.
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao said Ang's statements come as a relief for Rain or Shine.
Guiao said he has no reason to doubt Ang's pronouncement.
“Alam ko naman na lalaking magsalita yan (Mr. Ang), pagka sinabi niya, ginagawa niya. Atleast, that’s a relief (and) at the same time, it is a show of respect for the rules (of the PBA),” he added.
Guiao is also holding on to the word of Gregorio that they are not talking to Lee as of this time.
“Mas gusto nga namin na ganun ang ginagawa ng MVP (na hindi sila direktang kumakausap sa mga players) kesa naman yung manager ni Paul ang nagdidikta ng conditions nung trade,” Guiao said.
“Para kung magkaka trade man, pero we’re hoping na wala, we will have to dictate kung paano ang conditions of the trade. Kami, hindi sila,” added the fiery Elasto Painters coach.
Now that both the PBA's giants companies, the SMC organization and the MVP group, have denied making any move to lure Lee, Guiao was asked if he has a message for his prized dribbler.
“Wala naman akong message. Hihintayin ko lang siya, mag-uusap lang kami. Mag focus lang siya sa national team (sa Fiba World Cup),” said Guiao.
For podcast of interview with Yeng Guiao, see video: