Fit-again Paul Lee returns favor after Rain or Shine teammates held fort in his absence
Paul Lee led Rain or Shine with 18 points in Game Three - just his third game back after sitting out the entire Philippine Cup eliminations to recover from a knee injury. Dante Peralta

PAUL Lee continues to return the favor to his teammates as Rain or Shine seeks to move on the verge of claiming a finals ticket in the PBA Philippine Cup.

After the rest of the Elasto Painters stepped up in his absence, the healthy ROS star this time fills the void left by Jericho Cruz, who hurt his left knee in the waning seconds of Game Three of their semifinal series against San Miguel Beer on Saturday.

“Nung ako 'yung wala, sila yung nag-step up para sa akin, so ngayon, kailangan namin punuan din yung contribution ni Jericho,” said Lee, who came off a layoff of more than two months after injuring his knee in the offseason.

The Painters are still waiting for the result of Cruz’s MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) session that will reveal the extent of the injury he sustained after a collision with Marcio Lassiter.

[See RoS holds breath as Jericho Cruz awaits MRI result on knee injury]

Raymond Almazan is also out for the series due to a sprained right ankle after stepping on the foot of Jewel Ponferrada in practice on the eve of Game Three.

“Big loss sila,” Lee said. “Kailangan lang namin mag-play hard at team effort.”

Lee readily stepped up in Game Three, tallying a team-high 18 points, three assists, one rebound, and one steal in 27 minutes in just his third game back from injury.

“Medyo na-reach ko yung pinakapagod ng katawan,” the former Rookie of the Year admitted. “Pero okay rin na naramdaman ko 'yung ganoong pagod.”

“Kapag ginamit niya ako, magiging ready lang ako,” he added, referring to coach Yeng Guiao. “Hihingi naman ako ng sub sa kanya kapag hindi ko na talaga kaya eh.”

Guiao is confident the rest of the Painters will also provide extra production.

“This team is designed for others to step up,” the eloquent mentor said. “I think we will just look at the positive side of it. When Paul was injured, the rest of the guys stepped up. Maybe, this is another opportunity for the guys to step up.”

“We're used to making adjustments anyway,” he added.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos