RAIN or Shine star Paul Lee is confident his relationships with his team, coach and teammates are as strong as ever, with no fallout from the messy and well-publicized contract renewal in the offseason.
Nothing has changed, he insisted.
“Wala naming nawala 'dun (relasyon), walang nabago. Ganun pa rin. Kung ano yung umalis ako, pagbalik ko ganun pa rin sila… wala talaga (pinagbago). Walang nagbago sa trato nila sa akin… masaya ako at ganun na nangyari,” Lee said.
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao echoed his star's words.
“Walang nag-iba ... kinalimutan na namin 'yun.. we have to move on. Actually, nakakapagpalakas pa nga 'yan ng samahan… pag na-survive mo ang ganyang crisis.”
Since Lee verbally requested a trade in an overseas call he made to his mentor at the height of the contract dispute, Guiao was asked if he is worried about Lee’s loyalty to the team.
Nope, he was quick to answer.
“Wala akong takot na may mangyayaring ganun. I trust Paul. He is a mature person. I don’t think he will sacrifice yung reputation and career niya for something that’s already resolved,” replied Guiao.
“Pumirma na siya (sa amin) so ibig sabihin ang isip, puso at kaluluwa niya ay andidito na (sa Rain or Shine) at ibinibigay niya ng todo-todo,” said the mentor who is credited for molding Lee into one of the toughest point guards in the PBA today.
Asked why he demanded a trade in the first place, the former University of the East Red Warrior insisted that there was no team that approached him and that he only wanted to explore other options.
“Walang kumakausap sa akin. Parang pasaway lang na gusto kong mag-try ng iba,” he said.
And what convinced him to stay put?
“Yung samahan siguro dito (hindi ko maiwan), nakaka-miss rin kasi eh. Yung mga players dito at coaching staff, iba kasi ang treatment namin dito sa isa’t-isa. Kaya napag-isip-isip ko na mas masayang mag stay rito,” he added.
Here's a video of the full interview with Paul Lee:
Guiao stressed that Lee will once again play an important role in Rain or Shine’s quest to win another championship after the franchise conquered their first and only PBA crown in the 2012 Governors’ Cup.
While he was busy praising his veteran guard, Guiao was asked about the promise shown in preseason tune-up games by young guards Jonathan Uyloan, Jeric Teng and rookie Jericho Cruz.
“It’s a good sign. Pero alam mo ang totoong measure nyan eh pag andun na sa mga totoong laro,” he said.
Are they enough guarantees for the future considering Lee only signed a two-year contract extension?
“Masyado pang malayo 'yun para isipin natin 'yun ngayon," said Guiao, "pero sabi ko nga buo ang tiwala ko kay Paul kaya hindi ko pa iniisip ang ganun kalayo.”