HE may be embroiled in a controversial contract dispute with his mother team Rain or Shine, but Paul Lee playing anew for Gilas Pilipinas in the Asian Games is certainly 'non-negotiable.'
That was the assurance given by Lawrence Chongson, Lee's controversial adviser and agent, amid a dragging and contentious talks over a new contract with Rain or Shine that has put a cloud of doubt over Lee's stint with Gilas in the coming Incheon Games.
Chongson insisted suiting up for flag and country has always been one of his player’s top priorities, assuring it won't be compromised by the contract row with Lee's PBA ballclub.
“Pagdating sa flag and country, non-negotiable naman kami dyan," Chongson assured Spin.ph on Wednesday. "'Pag para sa bayan, go kami.”
Despite Gilas coach Chot Reyes disclosing that a recurring plantar fasciitis injury bothered the guard out of University of the East during the Fiba World Cup in Seville, Spain, Chongson said Lee is still willing to play for Gilas in the Incheon Asian Games two weeks from now.
“Kahit sabi ng iba hindi (na unahin namin ang national team) kasi nga wala pa kaming kontrata ulit sa Rain or Shine, lagi kaming bukas na lumaro dito,” he added, comparing the status of his player to NBA star Kevin Durant, who pulled out of Team USA in the last Fiba World Cup.
Asked if they are willing to put the contract negotiations with Rain or Shine on hold if and when Lee is named to the Asiad squad, Chongson answered in the affirmative.
“Walang problema sa amin 'yun. Kahit siguro after the Asian Games na namin kausapin ang Rain or Shine … kung magkakaroon ng pag-uusap,” said the former University of the East coach.
Here's a podcast of the Spin.ph interview with Lawrence Chongson:
As for his spot in the Gilas roster for the Incheon Games, Chongson insisted he and Lee are leaving everything to Reyes who is likely to shuffle his lineup to make room for Jimmy Alapag as well as Marcus Douthit in the event Andray Blatche is declared ineligible.
“Kami gusto nga namin na maglaro siya sa national team. Gustong gusto namin. Hindi kami tatanggi,” he said. “Pero nasa kay coach Chot na 'yan. Sabi nga nya magpapalit eh. Na-submit na 'yung lineup (sa Asian Games) kasama si Paul dun, pero sabi nga magpapalit daw.”
Lee’s injury should also not be a hindrance, according to Chongson, as the young player can play through it – contract or no contract.
“Tingin ko kung paglalaruin siya, OK naman siya. Paa lang 'yun. Kaya ni Paul 'yun, bata pa naman si Paul. Hindi naman career threatening 'yun,” he said.