Dropped from Gilas pool, Paul Lee still set to play 'with caution' for Star in PBA
Paul Lee was pulled out of the Gilas 5.0 pool on Tuesday. Jaime Campos

DESPITE nursing a meniscal tear on his left knee that ruled him out of Gilas Pilipinas duty, Paul Lee will still be suiting up for the Star Hotshots in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

Star board of governor Rene Pardo said the combo guard will have to play with caution so as not to aggravate the lingering injury which Lee had been nursing since his days with Rain or Shine.

“Makakalaro pa din naman siya sa second conference, alalay lang ng mga PT (physical therapists) namin,” said Pardo on Tuesday. “Hindi naman siya putol (ligament), may punit lang (tear)."

[See Maliksi gets surprise Gilas call-up as Paul Lee dropped, for now, with knee injury]

The injury prompted Star management to pull Lee out of the Gilas Pilipinas 5.0 training pool. Instead, the team allowed Allein Maliksi to take up his slot in the pool.

The national team began its three-day training camp at Splendido in Tagaytay also on Tuesday with Maliksi showing up in Lee's place. Lee attended the Hotshots’ practice at the Ronac gym.

“Magsasabay kasi ang training ng Star and the national team na mag-start na every Monday,” said Pardo. “Yung injury ni Paul yun na yung dati nya.”

Lee only began practicing with the Hotshots on Monday, according to coach Chito Victolero, although he’s not forcing the guard out of University of the East to go full blast in the team drills.

“Alalay lang kami kay Paul, mahirap din kasing mapuwersa,” Victolero shared to SPIN.ph. “May pain ng konti kaya ayaw din naming puwersahin.”

Victolero though, is clueless on whether Lee could miss a game or two in the mid-season tournament.

“Yun ang hindi natin masabi,” he said.

Star plays its first game against Phoenix on March 22 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The injury to Lee comes at a time when fellow teammate Marc Pingris is also nursing a bruised hip he suffered during the Philippine Cup semifinals against Barangay Ginebra.

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Victolero said the 35-year-old may likely missed a few games of the tournament.

“Baka he’ll miss two games ng Commissioner’s Cup,” the Star coach said.

At the moment, surgery remains an option for Lee, Victolero added.

“Kung may mahabang break baka dun lang namin ipagalaw,” he said. “Kasi it will take time din bago siya maka-recover if ever hel’ll undergo surgery.”

Pardo said: “Hindi naman kailangan na agad-agad yung surgery. At least six weeks kasi siya magpapahinga (if he’ll have surgery).”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos