Paul Lee braces for SMB fightback in Game Two: 'Zero-three nga nabalik nila, so ano tong 0-1?'
Paul Lee made up for his poor shooting with an all-around game in helping Magnolia take the finals opener. Jerome Ascano

PAUL Lee seeks to keep making an impact even without scoring as Magnolia tries to pull off another upset against San Miguel Beer in Game Two of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Sunday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Hotshots gunner was off target in the series opener, tallying just four points on 2-of-13 shooting - and missing all his seven three-point attempts, but he dished out some key assists to Robbie Herndon for the three-point bombs that sustained their rally on the way to a 105-103 squeaker.

The “Lee-thal Weapon” also scored when it counted the most, converting a running bank shot from the left side that tied the game at 97 with three minutes and 25 seconds left after trailing by as many as 20 points, 72-52, early in the third quarter.

“Alam naman natin eh, as a player, hindi naman porket na ‘di ka nakaka-shoot or nakaka-score. ‘di ka na nakakatulong sa team,” Lee said. “There's a lot of ways na pwede ka makatulong sa team – mga little extra pass lang to open up, dumrive ka lang mao-open yung teammates mo malaking bagay na yun.

“Feeling ko yun yung binibigay sa’kin, then may mga wide open shots din ako talagang ‘di ko talaga nashu-shoot, pero ano lang, dumipensa lang kami talaga,” he added. “Buti nag-respond si Robbie. Yun yung pinakamabigat nung run namin nung humahabol kami.”

Lee’s contribution outside offense reflected in the stats sheet as he collected eight boards, five assists, and one steal, against four turnovers in 28 minutes.  

Having slow starts seems to be a trend for the former Rookie of the Year. In the semifinals against NLEX, Lee contributed just eight points on 3-of-10 shooting in their one-point loss in the series opener, before exploding for 27 points in their 99-84 Game Two win on the way to closing out the series and getting over the semifinal hump.

“Willing akong i-give up yung scoring ko kung alam mo yun.. kung ganito yung mangyayari sa’min,” Lee said. “Kung may open shot, so yun, dun lang talaga. Pero I'm not forcing things na alam mo yun, basta maka-score lang ako, pero end of the game matatalo naman tayo.

“So ano lang, concentrate lang ako kung saan ako makakatulong talaga kasi pag nanalo naman kami lahat kami masaya eh, ‘di ba?” he added. “Kaysa naman yung marami kang ginawa pero talo, so walang kwenta rin. Pag nanalo naman kayo ng championship lahat kayo masaya. So yun naman yung ultimate goal namin eh.”

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And has his belief grown that the Hotshots can win not just one, or two, or three, but four games against the mighty Beermen that he's hoping for?

“Siguro parang alam mo yun, kumpyansa na nanalo kami, pero ‘di ka pwedeng magkumpyansa sa San Miguel eh,” Lee said. “Kahit anong sabihin mo three-peat champion ng All-Filipino yan.”

“Alam nila paano bumounce back sa isang talo. Zero-three nga nabalik nila, so ano tong 0-1? ‘Di ba? So ano lang, tingnan lang natin every game kung anong mangyari. Kung may chance, why not?”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos