WHETHER Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao’s bold declaration will come true or not will finally be revealed on Sunday as his Elasto Painters battle the B-Meg Llamados for the PBA Governors’ Cup title at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
After uttering the words “We will win the series with or without Paul Lee,” in Game Two’s post-game interview, Guiao’s Painters won twice and took a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series to move on the verge of winning their first league title in its six-year history.
But they were derailed twice as the Llamados won Games Five and Six.
The Painters meet the Llamados at 6 p.m. hoping to finally get over the hump this time.
Lee, the league’s newly crowned Rookie of the Year who aggravated his shoulder injury in Game Two, feels bad he wasn’t able to help his team in their two recent losses.
“Hinayang na hinayang ako. Mas masakit para sa akin natatalo kami at wala ako nagawa,”
Lee feels he’s ready to play, but Guiao earlier said he won’t take the risk on his star guard.
“Hindi ko sure ilang percent ako pero nararamdaman ko I can play,” Lee said.
“Pero wala naman ako magagawa, siya yung coach eh. Pinangangalagaan lang rin siguro niya kalagayan ko.”
He, however, ultimately believes his underdog team has what it takes to win it all even without him.
Although they have never been in a Game Seven before, Lee said they have been in a similar situation, citing the Painters’ 92-82 win over B-Meg last July 18 with the first Finals berth on the line that time.
“I have no worries kasi maganda naman pinakita ng team ko nung do-or-die for first finals berth.”
The fearless point guard from Tondo even believes this situation favors them.
“Mas okay na siguro na ganitong sitwasyon para ma-testing ang character ng team at makita kung anong klaseng player ka.”
The character will definitely be tested for a Painters team that’s entering its first Game Seven.
Only their coach has been in this same exact situation before.
Guiao last appeared in a Game Seven in the 2002 Commissioner’s Cup Finals where he steered Red Bull past Talk ‘N Text to the title after coming back from a 2-3 deficit.
Gabe Norwood, who will again start in place of Lee, relishes this chance of playing in a Game Seven.
“I’m excited to make the most of this opportunity. I’ll just have to leave it all on the court.
Most Improved Player of the Year Jeff Chan would also have to bounce back from a woeful outing, along with fellow swingmen Ryan Araña, skipper Jireh Ibañes.
And Jamelle Cornley, who only had 14 points in Game Six, has to provide import-like numbers.