THE war of words between Rain or Shine and the camp of Paul Lee is getting nastier by the day.
Lawrence Chongson, the controversial agent of Lee, went on the offensive on Monday as he criticized management for letting the contract talks between his player and team officials get out of hand.
In particular, Chongson said negotiations between the two camps would have not worsened had team governor Atty. Mamerto Mondragon not threatened to trade Lee to other teams.
Chongson was referring to a previous statement of Mondragon made to Spin.ph where the longtime Asian Coatings Incorporated executive claimed all players in the team including Lee are not dispensable.
“Wala naman akong sinabi eh. Pero sila 'yung parang napraning. Umopensa na ulit sila. Pero magsasalita na ako. Hindi ito isyu ng pera. Nagsimula ang gulo nung sinabi nila na willing silang i-trade kahit sino basta kapalit isang big man,” said Chongson.
“Nasaktan talaga si Paul dun…”
“Sana sinabi na lang nila, ‘We will not let Paul Lee go.’ Sana sinabi nila na, ‘We have let go of players in the past, he is our franchise player. Hindi kami willing pakawalan siya,'” he added.
Not yet done, Chongson accused the franchise of flip-flopping.
He said Lee never demanded a trade and instead requested for release only after what was said and done by the Rain or Shine camp.
“Nasa kanila na yan kung saan nila gustong mapunta si Paul o kung gusto pa nilang ma-i-trade,” said Chongson, who is also the coach of Tanduay in the PBA D-League.
“Totoo pa rin ba 'yung everyone can be traded (sa team nila)? Totoo pa rin ba 'yung kung ayaw … hindi pipigilan? Totoo pa rin ba 'yun? Ano to, tulak ng bibig, kabig ng dibdib,” he added. “I am just standing up for Paul!”
Chongson also defended the star guard’s decision to have a short vacation in Singapore and Hong Kong instead of resolving his contract dispute with his mother team.
“Kung iba-backtrack mo lang lahat ng insidente… sumobra sila sa opensa. Hindi naman kami lumalaban eh,” he said.
“Ikaw? Binabanatan ka, hindi ka lumalaban? Ano gagawin mo? Puro opensa na sa iyo. Puro banat na sa yo? Ano normal na gagawin mo… di ba magtago… kaya parang ganyan ginawa namin,” added Chongson.
The longtime head of Tanduay’s basketball operations, however, is not totally closing the doors on a possible talk with Rain or Shine officials.
Chongson is still optimistic a roundtable discussion with team owners Raymund Yu and Terry Que along with head coach Yeng Guiao can take place at the soonest possible time.
The tough talking agent though said Lee’s camp would not be in favor of just a one-on-one meeting between the player and Guiao.
“Sana mag-usap na kami. Ang kwento kasi sa nangyayari parang carousel, paikot. Gusto nila kausapin namin si Yeng … Si Yeng gusto kausapin si Paul Lee, si Paul sa akin humihingi ng advice. Ako gusto kong kausapin si Raymund.
“Hinahabol namin ang buntot ng isa’t isa… naging carousel eh,” he said.
As to how the dispute will end, Chongson said he won't dare to second-guess.
“Hindi ko alam, pero alam mo yung kasabihan (na) it takes two to tango,” he stressed.
At the same time, Chongson said the Rain or Shine set-up where Guiao has control of all matters regarding player matters is hindering the negotiations between the two parties.
“Iba kasi ang set-up nila. Sa ibang teams, kakausapin mo management basta tungkol sa kontrata. Sa kanila, sasabihin sa iyo ng mga boss, si Yeng ang kausapin,” he said.
“Ako, ang tagal ko na sa basketball. Ilang dekada na akong naghahawak ng Tanduay. Pero hindi sana ganun ang approach, na shy away nila 'yung isa (Lee) eh,” he added.
Asked if he sees a resolution to the dispute, the long-haired basketball coach had no straight answer.
“Hindi ko alam. Depende sa kanila.”