PAUL Lee has made a successful comeback from injury, punctuated his return with Player of the Week honors, and is now hoping to complete the story with a title conquest.
Last season's Rookie of the Year, who missed the latter part of Rain or Shine’s Finals conquest of San Mig Coffee in the Governors Cup with a shoulder injury, has returned to help lift the team to a 2-1 victory over the Barangay Ginebra Kings in the Philippine Cup quarterfinals.
Lee is back to his ideal playing weight of 210 lbs. and is apparently sharper than ever, averaging 18.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in the three-game quarterfinal series against Ginebra to earn Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week honors for the period December 10 to 16.
"Paul came back from his shoulder operation like nothing happened," said Painters coach Yeng Guiao of their No. 2 overall pick last season who looked set to break the 'jinx' that has hounded most rookies in the pro league.
"He didn't miss a beat," added Guiao. "I actually think he even got better because of his four-month break."
In the series-clinching 102-89 victory on Sunday, the former University of the East star tied his career-high with 25 points, scoring 12 during a decisive 23-0 third quarter-surge that put Rain or Shine firmly ahead.
In the series opener last Wednesday, he strung up seven points in the third period to spark the E-Painters to a 59-31 spread en route to an 82-65 win.
"It sure is a lot easier to coach with somebody like Paul around," said Guiao. "It's really a tribute to his talent and hard work that's why he is successful very early in his career."
Those victories pushed Rain or Shine into a best-of-game semifinal series with San Mig Coffee starting on Wednesday and Lee is now raring to get it on with the Mixers.
"Hindi ko natapos iyon (title series versus B-Meg) kaya ngayon mayroon akong opportunity na maipakita ko ang talent ko," said the 23-year-old Lee. "Ito ang chance ko."