Paul Lee takes it slow as he returns to Magnolia after latest injury setback
Paul Lee is back after missing three games of Magnolia. Jerome Ascano

PAUL Lee was just too glad he was able to help Magnolia arrests its slump in the PBA Philippine Cup in his first game back from injury on Friday night.

The veteran guard marked his comeback with a quiet 13 points, three rebounds, and three assists in the Hotshots’ 96-81 come-from-behind win over Globalport at the Smart Araneta Coliseum that put them back in the running for the top two spots in the playoffs.

Lee, who just turned 29 last Valentine's Day, missed the team’s last three outings after suffering a high-grade sprain on his left foot, two of which resulted in losses to defending champion San Miguel and Rain or Shine.

So it came as a relief to him to see the Hotshots prevailed in his comeback game, never mind that the team had to mount a comeback after trailing by as many as 34-21 in the second quarter.

“Sobrang saya lang dahil after (the) losing streak, naka-bounce back kami,” he said. “Although hindi maganda yung first half namin, kumapit kami sa isa’t-isa para makuha yung panalo na ito.”

Coach Chito Victolero welcomed the return of his top gun.

“Yung presence lang ni Paul malaking tulong sa amin,” he said. “Plus yung kanyang basketball IQ, malaking bagay yun para sa amin.”

Lee appreciated the kind words and was grateful his return had a positive effect on the team.

 “Sana ganun yung dating sa buong team yung bumalik ako nakatulong ako sa kanila,” the ‘Angas ng Tondo’ said.

He admitted still feeling some pain in his ankle and said he’s not yet 100 percent fully recovered.

“Kahit papaano may iniinda pa rin ako,” said Lee. “Sprain yan kaya day-to-day pa rin tayo. So ingat lang din, alaga lang, and tuloy lang yung therapy ko.”

The struggle did show in his numbers as Lee finished just 3-of-9 from the field, including 1-of-5 from three-point range.

“Dala lang siguro ng adrenaline yung kanina siyempre three games din ako nawala, so medyo excited lang,” he said. “Ngayon nararamdaman ko na medyo makirot na siya ulit.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos