Paul Lee glad to be part of a whole new chapter for storied Star franchise after Victolero hiring
Paul Lee attends his first practice for Star in bright yellow shoes matching the team colors. Karlo Sacamos

PAUL Lee was surprised to be traded by Rain or Shine - and found it tougher to believe that he would be dealt to Star in a straight swap for the James Yap.

“Dun ako pinakanagulat, kasi nung nalaman ko, hindi naman sinabi sa akin kung sino kapalit ko eh, so hindi ko in-expect,” the former Gilas Pilipinas guard said on Friday, a day after the blockbuster trade.

“Nung nag-text yung mga kakilala ko na kay James daw ako na-trade, sabi ko, ‘Baka joke lang ‘yan.' Alam ko na-trade na ako, pero hindi siguro si James Yap.’”

“Nung na-clear, dun ako na-shock,” the former Rain or Shine star added. “Yun 'yung hindi ko ma-explain na feeling kasi James Yap (yan eh).”

That the trade, one of the biggest in league history, went down the way it did only means pressure for Lee, who knows he has big shoes to fill as he replaces someone who for so long was the face of the storied Purefoods franchise.

“Hindi ko alam kung pressure yung nararamdaman ko, pero syempre may pressure pa rin kasi si James yung nawala dito sa kanila, so medyo mabigat yun na role,” the 27-year-old playmaker said.

But thanks to lessons he learned from his former coach at Rain or Shine Yeng Guiao, the former University of the East star knows the only way to turn around Star is to play within the team concept.

“Inisip ko na lang yung mga natutunan ko kay coach Yeng eh,” Lee said. “Hindi naman kayang i-resolve ng isang player yan. Kailangan ko lang tulungan yung team, magtulungan kami para sa great success sa coming season.”

[See Where does Yap-Lee trade rank among biggest deals in PBA history?]

Lee attended his first Hotshots practice on Friday under new coach Chito Victolero, who replaced Jason Webb after one of the poorest seasons in franchise history.

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That only means a whole new chapter for the team, Lee said.

“Maganda kasi kahit papaano, bago yung coach, bago lahat, so sabay-sabay kami tinuturuan ngayon kung ano yung gagawin namin, so mas pabor sa akin,” Lee said.

“Dun sa nangyari, medyo iba lang yung pakiramdam, pero buhay ng basketball player ganun talaga, so kailangan lagi kang handa sa dapat mangyari, so move on lang,” he added.

“Pero happy ako dito kung saan ako napunta,” Lee concluded. “Very happy and kuntento.”

[See King Warriors Lee, Yap find careers intertwined - thanks to mother of all trades]

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos