PAUL Lee couldn’t have chosen a better time to herald his return to form.
The stocky 6-foot guard showed vintage form in the opener of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals, looming as an influential veteran presence in a 105-97 Rain or Shine win over Alaska Friday night at the Araneta Coliseum.
Lee topscored for his team with 20 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the three-point zone in what was easily his best game of the conference since coming back from a knee injury that sidelined him for most of the season.
The Rain or Shine playmaker referred to his performance as ‘perfect timing.’
“Sana nga magdire-diretso na. Ituloy ko lang 'yung ginagawa ko,” said the soft-spoken former Rookie of the Year, who had 10 points in the second quarter alone and shot 7 of 12 overall from the field.
The last of his field goals from beyond the arc came down the stretch, giving the Elasto Painters a 99-94 lead that effectively put an end to the Alaska threat.
Coach Yeng Guiao later admitted the bail-out basket only solidified what everybody knows all along – Rain or Shine is Lee’s team.
“This is just the right time for him to get his game back, championship time,” said Guiao. “When everything was on the line, he made the big shot.
“He’s back to his role as the leader of this team.”
There were some scary moments during Game One when Lee went down writhing in pain after driving hard to the basket, which was made worse when Rain or Shine burly import Perre Henderson-Niles landed on him.
But the tough guy who has battled an assortment of injuries in his five-year pro career, ‘Angas ng Tondo’ simply shrugged this one off.
“Medyo nag-worry ng konti kasi ang bigat ng import namin,” he said with a smirk. “Medyo sumasakit siya ngayon, pero kayang tiisin yung sakit.”