Paul Lee stays optimistic as Magnolia faces tall odds vs San Miguel in PBA Finals duel
Paul Lee on weary Magnolia's Philippine Cup finals battle with well-rested San Miguel: 'Sana maka-isa o maka-dalawa man lang. Pwede ring maka-apat kami.' Jerome Ascano

FROM one hump to the other. And the latest one is going to be a more difficult hurdle facing Magnolia Pambansang Manok.

Paul Lee grappled for words what he and the Hotshots expect in their return to the finals together, where they face a team described by Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone as 'the monster.'

“San Miguel sobrang lakas na team. Kung titignan mo, parang napakahirap pasukin nung team. Parang napaka-imposible ng...alam mo yun," said the Hotshots' 'Lee-thal Weapon.'

The mighty Beermen, seeking a fourth straight PBA Philippine Cup crown, are indeed heavily favored to run over a Magnolia side, which went through six hard games against NLEX in the semis before reaching the all-Filipino finals for the first time in four years.

The best-of-seven title series promptly starts on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, giving the weary Hotshots just a short two-day rest before going up against the well-rested Beermen - who clinched a finals berth as early as Saturday against Cone and his Kings.

Other than physical condition, the Beermen's potent firepower, anchored on four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, is also of conern for Magnolia, according to Lee.

"The way yung nilalaro nila ngayon, yung starting five pa nga lang nila, e," he said about SMB's Fab Five of Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, and Chris Ross, the PBA Press Corps' Finals MVP of the same conference for the last two seasons.

"Tapos pag pinasok yung bench nila nagko-contribute din naman."

If ever, the 29-year-old guard from University of the East is banking on the solid chemistry the Hotshots has developed in more than a season together, which saw them reach the semifinals - but never reaching the finals - in all three conferences last year.

"Isa sa mga puhunan namin yan na dadalhin sa finals," said Lee.


Still, the fact remains the Beermen are a formidable lot who's currently making a case as one of the most dominant all-Filipino dynasties in the 43-year history of the league.

And Lee has no ready answer on how the Hotshots will try to stop the SMB juggernaut.

"Ewan ko kung paano talaga," he said. "Sana maka-isa o maka-dalawa man lang."

But on second thought, he was quick to add, "Pwede ring maka-apat kami."

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos