PAUL Lee said only a team with time-tested chemistry and solid depth like Rain or Shine can pull off what coach Yeng Guiao had branded a 'great escape' against hard-luck NLEX on Tuesday night.
An inspired NLEX side led by Guiao's former player Enrico Villanueva and Mark Borboran appeared to have made the game's most decisive surge when it came back from 10-points down to seize an 89-82 lead with three minutes left and take a six-point lead into the final minute.
The Elasto Painters, however, refused to fold, with Lee scoring 10 of the team's final 15 points including the three-pointer and two free throws that gave them back the lead, 94-93.
“Iyung tagal ng samahan namin, nandun pa rin lumalabas,” Lee told mediamen, shortly after torching NLEX with 27 points, including three three-pointers.
Lee gave credit to the bench for stepping up in a game where Rain or Shine only dressed 10 players owing to the absence of Jeff Chan (flu), Jeric Teng (back spasm), Chris Tiu (hamstring) and Jervy Cruz (calf).
Gabe Norwood, Jonathan Uyloan, rookie Jericho Cruz and JR Quinahan all stepped up as Rain or Shine's subs outscored their NLEX counterparts, 59-26.
“Di naman ganun kahirap mag-adjust kasi alam naman natin ang team na Rain or Shine, sa amin, kung may mawala, may mag-step up para takpan yung kulang na 'yun,” Lee said.
The fourth successive win improved the Painters' record to 6-2 (win-loss), but Lee said they may need to sweep their last three games to make the Top 2 and clinch an outright place in the semifinals.
However, Rain or Shine will face a daunting task ending the eliminations where it will face defending champion Purefoods (Sunday), league-leader Alaska (December 5) and dangerous Ginebra (December 7).
Lee, however, is undaunted.
“Importante na di kami matalo kung gusto naming makapasok sa semis," said the former Rookie of the Year awardee. "Kailangan ma-straight namin (ang last three) games namin.”