THE PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series is not all about Paul Lee against former team Rain or Shine.
Or so Lee insisted.
“Hindi naman ito yung laban sa akin at Rain or Shine,” said the Hotshots deadshot, who played his first five seasons in the league with Rain or Shine. “Kailangan ko lang maging ready at maging ready 'yung buong team.”
Thanks to Lee's second-half explosion, the sixth-seeded Hotshots sealed a best-of-seven duel with No. 2 Rain or Shine after beating Ginebra, 85-72, in sudden-death Game 3 before a crowd of 11,147 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Lee caught fire after coming off the bench in the second half, dropping 13 of his game-high 25 points in the third quarter when the Hotshots began to pull away from the third-seeded Kings.
His heroics paved the way for a Final Four encounter with No. 2 Rain or Shine - the second time the two teams are meeting in the playoffs since the Elasto Painters traded Lee to Magnolia for two-time MVP James Yap.
Lee knows how capable the Elasto Painters are, even though the team had adopted a different pattern ever since coach Caloy Garcia took over from Yeng Guiao.
“Pagdating sa dulo ng play nila, ganun pa rin ang ginagawa nila. Kahit na sabihin mong same yung ginagawa nila, dahil sa sobrang tagal na nilang magkakasama, alam na nila yung galaw ng isat isa,” said Lee.
“Mahirap pa ring bantayan kasi alam nila yung mga counters na ginagawa nila kaya yun ang kailangan naming paghandaan.”
The Hotshots swept the Elasto Painters in the 2017 Commissioners Cup quarterfinals behind do-it-all import Ricardo Ratliffe.
Lee knows it’s going to be a huge difference this time.
“Magiging magandang laban. Last time na nakalaban namin sila merong import,” he said. “Pero siyempre iba yung All-Filipino.”