PAUL Lee is likely to follow Greg Slaughter and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and watch Gilas Pilipinas from the sidelines.
In what could be another blow to the national team’s ambitious bid to make the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the deadly combo guard faces the possibility of skipping playing for coach Tab Baldwin in the qualifier for the Summer Games which the country is hosting from July 5-10 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 27-year-old Lee is set to report for training with Gilas for the first time on Tuesday, where he plans to sit down and personally talk to Baldwin regarding the true condition of his hurting left knee.
“Sasabihin ko kay Coach Tab yung sitwasyon ko,” said the Rain or Shine guard, admitting his situation has gone even worse since last playing in Game Six of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals won by the Elasto Painters over the Alaska Aces.
He admitted visiting the doctors again last week to consult on the knee, which was constantly being drained during the playoffs. And the diagnosis, according to him, is not something pleasant for Baldwin to hear.
“May partial tear pa rin yung ligament. Saka mas maraming tubig ngayon kesa nung huling nagpa-drain ako,” he said of the injury (lateral meniscus and Illotbial Band) which had kept him out for most of the early part of the season.
Lee was already advised to have the knee drained and at the same time undergo PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) procedure, which meant being totally out of action for more than a month.
But he decided to defer doing it not until he personally gets to talk to the 57-year-old Baldwin.
“Hindi na muna ako nagpa-drain kasi if magpa-drain ako tuloy na ng PRP uli … kailangan i-PRP talaga e,” said the PBA Press Corps Finals MVP. “Plan ko is next week lahat gawin, e kung ganun out ako for five weeks – recovery and therapy na yun.
“If ganun, mahirap naman na pag-antayin ko yung Gilas.”
Should that be the case, Lee is going to be the third member of the national training pool to skip join Gilas in its most important mission yet due to injury. Separate injuries in their respective ankles had already ruled both Slaughter and Rosser out of the team.
Lee has been complaining about the knee during the course of the best-of-seven title series against the Aces. Following the title clinching win, he admitted feeling pain on the injured knee, which also has some swelling.
Baldwin admitted having an idea about the extent of Lee’s injury shortly after the national team’s practice Sunday. But he won’t take any course of action on the situation of the explosive combo guard not until he hears it directly from the player himself.
If there’s one thing he regrets, Lee said it’s not being able to play before his countrymen during the course of the six-day qualifier.
“Of course, nakaka-hinayang kung hindi ako makakasama. Ang nakaka-hinayang kung sakali is dito gagawin,” he said. “First time ko sana maglaro sa harap ng mga kababayan natin. Sayang kung sakali.”
Still, if given the chance, he’s always ready to render his service for flag and country, provided he’s healthy to play.
“May chance pa naman ako siguro sumali sa national team sa mga susunod na competitions,” said the former University of the East King Warrior.
For now, he’ll be laying his cards down before Baldwin, and from there, take on whatever decision the national mentor has to make.
“Pero tignan ko din kung anong sabihin ni Coach Tab, mag-usap muna kami. Although sa ngayon, eto yung sitwasyon ko.” Lee stressed.