PAUL Lee had one touching message to his father Edwin thru viber moments after helping Gilas Pilipinas escape with a thrilling 71-70 win over a resilient Jordan side on Tuesday night in the FIBA-Asia Cup.
And it read, “Papa, are you proud of me?”
Of course, the elder Lee, who’s based in Tondo, Manila couldn’t have been prouder of his son especially at the way Lee has been living his dream of playing for the national team for the first time.
“Natutuwa ako sa anak ko, kasi nakikita ko kung gaano siya kasaya sa ginagawa niya. Matagal na niyang gustong mag-suot ng national team colors, ngayon lang natupad, kaya masayang masaya ako sa anak ko,” the soft-spoken dad told Spin.ph.
Paul’s father has also shown no sign of regret that son is currently carrying his mother’s surname at the back of his jersey for the entire tournament owing to a technicality when his birth certificate was registered.
Carrying the surname Dalistan, Lee has so far been a revelation for Gilas in the Fiba-Asia Cup, although this doesn’t mean a sure slot for the Rain or Shine combo guard in the coming Fiba-World Cup in Spain, according to the elder Lee.
“Wala sa akin 'yun. Basta ang sa akin, masaya ako na makita si Paul na nag-e-enjoy at tinutupad ang mga pangarap niya,” he said.
“Saka at least, alam ng lahat ng tao na maaga kami naging mag-asawa ng misis ko,” he added in jest.
The proud dad is also not tempering his expectations that Lee his will make it to the final roster of the national team to the world championship.
“Hindi kami ganun na nag-e-expect. Kung darating, darating. Come what may. Kung binigay para sa kanya, naka-ukol para sa kanya. Pero behind that, masaya kami na na-invite siya sa national team. Katuparan ng pangarap niya yan eh,” he said.
Lee’s girlfriend, Rubie Chua, is also proud that her boyfriend has been receiving positive words from fans the way he’s been performing for Gilas, which he currently leads in scoring with 14.7 points, aside from 2.7 assists and 1.0 rebound in the team’s three-game sweep of Group B in the preliminaries.
“Natutuwa nga kami kasi sobrang ganda ng sinasabi ng mga tao kay Paul. Puro positive talaga at na-a-appreciate ng fans 'yung effort at contributions niya,” said Chua.
“Pero si Paul naman never siya na nag-expect na mag-Spain siya. Basta siya ang pinagtutuunan niya `yung tournament ngayon.”
Chua also bared how Lee wants to improve his performance every game.
“Nung unang game di ba puro offense siya, kaya lang marami turnovers? So ang ginawa niya nung second game against Singapore, iniba niya 'yung dimension ng laro nya. Nag focus siya sa team play,” added Lee’s amiable girlfriend.
“Ganun kasi si Paul eh. Hindi siya nakukuntento sa isang magandang performance. Lagi niyang gustong mas taasan pa 'yung laro niya from the next game to the next one,” said Chua.
The proud girlfriend disclosed she would also act as Lee’s adviser whenever the two of them talk over the phone after every game in Wuhan, China.
“Tumatawag siya, nagtatanong about the game. Tapos ako naman sinasabi ko yung nakikita ko like nung game one may apat na turnovers siya. Sabi ko kulang siya sa composure at naging tentative. He works on it naman,” Chua said with a smile.
“Syempre, affected ako pag inaatake ng haters si Paul. Ako nga mas nasasaktan pag may mga sinasabi silang mali kay Paul. Yun ang ayaw kong pressure. Although di siya affected, ayaw ko na may nasasabing masama sa kanya.”