Yeng Guiao admits Rain or Shine won't be the same without injured Paul Lee
Paul Lee was initially expected to be sidelined for two months after suffering a partial tear on the meniscus and ACL on his left knee in their tune-up game in Kuwait two weeks ago. But coach Yeng Guiao now says his crack guard could return sooner than that. Karlo Sacamos

RAIN or Shine fans received a bit of good news as Paul Lee is set to return earlier than expected from a knee injury.

The Elasto Painters star was initially expected to be sidelined for two months after suffering a partial tear on the meniscus and ACL on his left knee in their tune-up game in Kuwait two weeks ago.

But RoS coach Yeng Guiao on Tuesday bared Lee could return in a little over a month.

“At least the good news is yung dating iniisip namin na two months, baka a little less than that na,” Guiao said after practice. “We hope he can come back before the playoffs.”

“Medyo mapapabilis yung pag-heal,” said Lee, who underwent a platelet-rich plasma therapy on Monday to help repair the tears. “Pero syempre kailangan hindi pa rin puwersahin; kailangan pagalingin ng maigi. Kasi pag hindi daw maganda yung pag-heal, magco-collapse yung ibang part ng tuhod ko.”

Guiao is hoping his team can cope with the abrupt absence of Le.

“We did not expect that this early na magkakaroon ng problema, but we will try to survive without him,” the veteran mentor said.

“The mentality is to maximize 'yung potential ng whole team,” he added. “It’s going to be a chance for other guys to fill in his shoes.”

Still, Guiao admitted Lee’s shoes are too big to fill.

“Para sabihin natin na hindi mag-iiba yung takbo ng team, mag-iiba pa rin,” he said. "We will just have to be mentally ready. Kasi mentally, naka-depend ka rin sa kanya. You know if he’s there, I can pull him out of the bench in crucial moments; when you need a big shot, he’s going to be there. But that’s not going to be available.”

“This team is not going to be the same team without Paul,” he added. “But we will still be contending.”

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Guiao expects sophomore wingman Jericho Cruz as well as rookies guards, Maverick Ahanmisi and Don Trollano, to step up in Lee’s absence.

“Doon kasi sa scoring ni Paul, we’re going to lose about fifteen points of guard scoring, so kailangan fifteen points more din yung mai-contribute ng guards namin.”

Lee expressed frustration that he suffered his injury with the upcoming season just around the corner.

“Nakaka-frustrate rin kasi ready na talaga yung team eh,” he said. “Pero wala tayong magagawa. Hintayin na lang gumaling at pakundiyson ulit para at least mahabol ko 'yung pinakamabilis na recovery.”

“Tiwala naman ako sa team,” he added. “Kung may na-i-injury, may nag-se-step up. Ganun talaga yung ginawang sistema ni coach Yeng.” 

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos