PAUL Lee is delighted that Magnolia is nearly back at full-strength, hoping that the team will finally be complete when the going gets tough in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Injuries have prevented the Hotshots from flaunting their full potential, leaving the team just short of reaching the finals in each of the three conferences last season.
But with Lee and Marc Pingris now healthy after missing crucial parts of last season, the Hotshots are almost complete and just waiting for Rafi Reavis to return to the fold.
“Hopefully, makabalik na lahat ng hundred percent tapos wala ng ma-injury,” Lee said. “Kasi mahirap yung pag may na-iinjury, nagbabago yung rotation ni coach Chito (Victolero), tapos pag balik ng players, parang nahihirapan, parang hindi kami sanay ng ganun eh.
“Kailangan ganito kami talaga para makita yung kung ano talaga yung kakayanan ng team,” he added.
Lee hurt his knee in the last Governors’ Cup semifinals, causing him to practically miss all but one of the three games against Meralco, playing less than four minutes in Game Two, before sitting out the next game where he helplessly saw the Bolts sweep them in their best-of-five series.
But the Hotshots star has proven he’s in tip-top shape this season, playing in all of the Hotshots first three games and showing his vintage form in their 124-77 blowout over Kia on Wednesday night.
Lee sparked the surge in the third quarter where he scattered all his 13 points – after missing three shots in the first half – as the Hotshots outscored the Picanto, 34-11.
“Continue lang ako sa ginagawa ko,” Lee said. “Maganda rin yung setup sa akin ng mga teammate ko. Actually, mga open shots naman yung mga tinira ko nung first half, pero tatlong sunod na sablay, so lie low muna, hanap muna yung mga teammate; tutal, tina-trap naman ako, tapos bawi sa depensa.”
Lee, who added four assists, three blocks, and one rebound in almost 20 minutes as a starter, deflected credit to Ian Sangalang, who has benefited from the attention the Hotshots’ playmakers are getting.
“Si Ian, he’s always ready lang,” Lee said. “Lagi kong sinasabi sa kanya na madalas tina-trap kaming mga guards, so ready ka lang lagi. Maganda yung nilalaro niya lagi. Tsaka nag-eextra (work) rin naman siya eh; talagang sacrifice siya sa practice, kaya maganda yung kinakalabasan dito sa game.”