FOR Paul Lee, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
The Magnolia combo guard shrugged off his shooting woes in the PBA Governors Cup Finals by delivering the winning basket in Magnolia’s 79-78 win over Alaska on Friday that moved the Hotshots on the cusp of the season-ending championship
Lee continued to struggle in the best-of-seven finals as he went 4-of-12 from the field in Game 5, but it was his clutch jumper with 1.3 seconds remaining that clinched for the Hotshots the win and a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Magnolia can clinch the title with another win in Game Six on Wednesday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Lee, who won his first Best Player of the Conference award two nights ago, finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds as he made a significant contribution in the title series for the very first time.
He thanked coach Chito Victolero and the Magnolia coaching staff for its continued trust on him despite his shooting struggles.
“Struggle ako buong series offensively, pero yung coaching staff and the whole team lagi nilang sinasabi na ‘next shot, next shot’ papasok din yan,” said Lee.
“Tinira ko lang. Luckily, yung timing maganda. Sobran bait talaga ni Lord. Sa kanila (Alaska) na e. Tapos naging ganun 'yung end ng game.”
The Aces appeared headed for a third straight victory after Best Import Mike Harris drained two free throws with 11 seconds left to put the Aces in front, 78-77.
But Lee came up with his own heroics after recovering the loose ball following a block by Harris on Romeo Travis with the game clock winding down. Lee was mobbed by teammates after draining the game-winner.
“Wala na akong mahihiling pa. Napakagandang panalo nun,” said the combo guard out of University of the East.
“I took the chance, kasi wala na e, down kami. Yung small details na ganun, yung mga 50-50 ball, yun yung mga nagpapanalo ng laro. Nakuha and then na-convert ko, so it gave us a win,” said Lee.
The Hotshots gun for the clincher next week as the team eyes its first championship since winning a grand slam in 2014.
“It’s going to be hard the next game. Yun yung pinakamahirap,” said Lee. “We need to prepare and of course, huwag naming kalimutan na mag-enjoy din sa laro.”