RAIN or Shine coach Yeng Guiao stuck his neck out with his "We'll win with or without Paul Lee" battle cry on Wednesday night, and two Painters stars are determined to prove their coach right.
Import Jamelle Cornley and gunner Jeff Chan exude the same confidence as their tough-talking coach, vowing to step up in super rookie Lee's absence ahead of Game Three of the PBA Governors Cup finals on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Lee, a shoo-in for the Rookie of the Year award, aggravated his dislocated left shoulder in the Painters' 85-80 loss to B-Meg in Game Two on Wednesday, which evened the best-of-seven championship series at 1-all.
The former University of the East star has been ruled out of Friday’s game and is listed as 'day-to-day' for the rest of the season-ending series (Click here for full story on Lee injury).
Cornley and Chan, however, remain unfazed.
“It doesn’t really matter if Paul Lee doesn’t play. Not to be cocky or anything, but we just have a lot of weapons,” Cornley said after the Painters’ Thursday morning practice at the Northeast Greenhills village gym.
“Naglaro na kami before na wala siya,” Chan said, referring to the Painters’ 100-90 win over Barako Bull in the eliminations where Lee first sustained the injury and didn’t play in the second half.
“Basta 'wag lang kami lumabas sa sytem ni coach Yeng, we’ll be fine.”
But for the Painters to regain the upperhand in the series, Gabe Norwood, who is set to start at the point, will have to be more aggressive and second-stringers Ronjay Buenafe, Jireh Ibañes and Ryan Araña need to fill the scoring gap left by the flamboyant Lee.
Chan will also have to bounce back from his atrocious shooting night in the Game Two loss.
Lee’s unavailability will definitely favor B-Meg, but Llamados coach Tim Cone aired fears his absence may work against his team in the end.
“It’s gonna put pressure on us because suddenly we’re the heavy favorites,” said the American mentor, who’s aiming to match the legendary Baby Dalupan’s record 15 coaching titles.