With the score tied and the clock winding down, Yeng Guiao trusted Paul Lee enough to have the ball in his hands.
And the rookie was quick to repay his coach’s faith.
The unflappable freshman from Tondo buried the game-winning three-pointer with 2.6 seconds left as Rain or Shine nipped Barangay Ginebra, 93-90, to stay perfect four games into their PBA Governors’ Cup campaign.
Showing maturity well beyond his years, Lee got the ball from import Jamelle Cornley off a broken play and waited until the right moment before calmly sinking the game-winner that frustrated a pro-Ginebra crowd at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
“We wanted the ball in Cornely’s hands, but the next best thing was for it to be in Lee’s hands,” Guiao said. "We trusted him to make the right play.
“Lee is playing like a 10-year veteran. He’s not intimidated; he takes responsibility and he’s not afraid to have the ball in his hands.”
The top Rookie of the Year candidate finished with 18 points on four-for-five shooting from three-point range to go with four assists and three rebounds.
Lee’s heroics enabled the Painters to post their best start to a conference in franchise history. For Guiao, the last time he started a tournament with four straight wins was 10 years ago when he was still coach of Red Bull.
The win did not come easy. It was a close game throughout with 10 deadlocks, the last at 90-all after Ginebra import Cedric Bozeman’s teardrop with one minute and one second remaining.
“We’re happy to win close games. We were able to stay focused and play through pressure moments,” Guiao said. “For a young team like ours, any coach would be happy to get a win like this.
“This is like winning two games.”
Cornley led the Painters with 27 points, 14 boards, and three assists.
Bozeman, who missed a potential game-tying triple as time expired, finished with 22 points and 13 boards for the Kings, who now have an even 2-2 slate.