MAGNOLIA is not just about Paul Lee.
The Hotshots rousing 91-83 win over TnT Katropa in the PBA Philippine Cup Saturday night stood as concrete proof that the team is capable of winning without Lee, who missed most of the second half due to a sprained foot.
The hard-fought game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum was close at 52-51 in favor of Magnolia when Lee went out in the third quarter after a bad fall following a collision with Troy Rosario.
But instead of crumbling without one of their top gunners, the Hotshots fought the Katropa tooth and nail before running away with their fourth straight win - and move a game behind league-leading reigning champion San Miguel (5-0) at 5-1.
The effort of the entire Hotshots earned the respect of Lee.
“Yun ang pinakamaganda doon, nakita natin 'yung strength ng team,” he said after the game, his sprained left ankle put in an immobilizer to help the swelling subside.
“A lot of guys stepped up,” he said, most especially lauding fellow guards Mark Barroca and Justin Melton, who led Magnolia in scoring with 20 and 14 points, respectively.
“Maganda yun para sa amin na nung nawala ako pinakita ng buong team na kaya nilang manalo. Positive na result para sa amin.”
The only negative result though, was his injured ankle.
“Magang-maga na. Malas lang, hindi ko ini-expect, hindi naman natin maiiwasan yung ganun,” said Lee, who only played for 18 minutes and finished with five points and two rebounds.
It was the worst ankle sprain he suffered, Lee admitted, but he is hopeful the five-day rest will help him get back in action against Blackwater on Friday.
“Feeling ko medyo OK naman. Hopefully sprain lang,” Lee added. “May check up pa ito sa Monday.”
“Napakamalas lang kasi maganda na yung laro (ko), maganda na yung tinatakbo ng team. Pero wala naman tayong magagawa doon.”