FROM the All-Star Game, Paul Lee’s long range shooting hasn’t cooled down as it was still in full display in Magnolia’s 102-74 rout of NLEX during the final day of eliminations in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Lee finished with a game-high 26 points, including 18 in the first half when he led the Hotshots in outscoring the Road Warriors, 26-14, for a 16-point Magnolia lead at the break.
He also went 6-of-9 from three-point range in a fitting follow-up to his All-Star performance in Calasiao, Pangasinan that saw him bury a record nine three-pointers in the North team’s runaway 185-170 win over the South.
“Akala ko may wheelchair pa rin na kasama,” said Lee in jest, referring to the All-Star game where every three-pointer and dunk meant a corresponding wheelchair donated to charity by organizers.
Turning serious, the Magnolia guard said he needs to stay consistent from afar especially in the playoffs when the sixth seeded Hotshots face No. 3 seed Barangay Ginebra in a best-of-three series.
That should serve as a grudge match after the two rivals' Governors Cup semifinal series last season which Magnolia won, three games to one.
“Sana magtuluy-tuloy yung ganung shooting ko kasi this conference medyo hindi consistent yun tira ko sa labas. So hopefully, magdire-diretso,” he said.
Game One of the series is set Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena, and winning the opener is imperative for the Hotshots, according to Lee.
“Crucial yung Game One, yun ang sinasabi sa amin ni coach Chito (Victolero), yun ang talagang parang Game 7 kasi kung sino talaga yung makauna yun ang mas mataas na chance na manalo sa series,” he said.
The Hotshots finished with a 6-5 record after a slow 0-3 start to the conference. That meant the team went 6-2 in its last eight outings.
“Siguro sabihin na lang natin na napaganda lang din yung schedule namin na sunud-sunod, nakuha namin yung timing namin,” Lee said
“Medyo mahirap lang pero nakatulong din sa amin.”