LOCAL basketball is indeed, a small world.
A week after reports came out Paul Lee wants out of Rain or Shine, co-team owner Terry Que and Lawrence Chongson, the controversial agent of the Gilas Pilipinas stalwart, crossed paths in Bangkok, Thailand where understandably, they talked about the status of the star combo guard in brief.
Both are in the Thai capital as part of the 23rd Asean Veterans Basketball League.
And to show there is no animosity on the part of both parties, Que and Chongson shook hands – to the delight of the entire Philippine delegation – just before the start of the opening ceremonies of the annual basketball tournament for players aged 40-and-up.
“Syempre, magkakaibigan naman kami. Binigyan ko lang siya (Que) ng update ng kaunti (sa estado na sitwasyon ni Paul). Baka kasi isipin nila na wala nang pag-asa, wala nang chance na si Paul na bumalik sa kanila,” said Chongson.
“Sabi ko naman, as a friend, hindi pa talaga sarado (na aalis si Paul sa Rain or Shine). Ni-reiterate ko lang na wala talaga kaming kinakausap, wala ring kumakausap sa amin,” added the flamboyant former University of the East coach.
Chongson also gave Spin.ph a hint of his short conversation with Que, spoken in Fookien language, on Tuesday night when they met at the lobby of the Chaleena Hotel.
“Binigyan ko lang naman sila ng feedback ng kaunti. Kesa lagi silang nasa dilim. Kung may plano silang iba or what, ako naman sinasabi ko lang `yung sa amin,” he said.
Que for his part, told Spin.ph that Chongson wanted an audience with him and Rain or Shine co-owner Raymund Yu regarding the status of Lee, whose three-year contract with the Elasto Painters expired last August 31.
“Gusto nga daw niya kaming kausapin ni Raymund tungkol kay Paul. Kaso sabi ko sa kanya, mas mainam siguro na si coach Yeng (Guiao) na lang kausapin niya,” said Que.
“Ayaw ko na kasing maki-alam sa isyu na yan. Dati kasi nag-uusap na kami ni Lawrence tungkol dyan. Tapos nabago. Kaya ngayon, sabi ko sa kanya, si coach Yeng na lang ang lapitan niya,” added the owner of the popular Que-Pe hardware chain in Metro Manila.
Just like before, Chongson insisted no feelers nor offers have so far been laid down by other teams on Lee.
“Wala, wala. Zero (ang offer),” he replied.
Chongson was also mum when asked if he expects multi-team companies San Miguel Corporation and the Manny V. Panglinan groups to be firm in their earlier claim that they are not negotiating with Lee and will not begin any talks with the former Rookie of the Year unless initiated by Rain or Shine.
“Nasa sa kanila na yun. Sila ang nakaka-alam lang nun. Hindi ko controlled yun. Mahirap eh,” he said.
“Pero tulad ng dati, sinasabi ko nga na matimbang sa amin `yung magandang pag-trato nila (Rain or Shine) kay Paul,” Chongson added.
Here's video of interview with Chongson:
Asked if the 420-thosuand a month maximum salary offered by Rain or Shine is already sufficient for Lee to return to the team that picked him second overall in the 2011 draft, the former Uno High School standout uttered a very diplomatic response.
“Wala naman sa offer yan. Alam naman namin na sinusunod lang nila yung alituntunin ng PBA, kami naman sa side namin aware kami sa alituntunin ng PBA,” he said.
And his take on Guiao’s rant about ‘someone brainwashing Lee to play hard ball’?
“Hindi ako yun. I am sure hindi ako yun (gumugulo sa isip ni Lee na sinasbai ni Guiao) I don’t think so. Si Yeng naman I think is smarter than that,” he replied.
“May gumugulo doesn’t have to be isang tao. It can be an incident or something else, and coach Yeng is smarter than that (to pinpoint me),” the Boracay Rhum coach added.
Meanwhile, he is the full video interview of Chongson where he also shared his message to coach Yeng Guiao and his take on why Paul Lee, the country’s best player in the Fiba Asia Cup last month, is struggling after the first three games of the Fiba world cup in Spain.