PAUL Lee and Ian Sangalang are bracing for a hectic two weeks of preparation not just for the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals but also the coming Fiba Basketball World Cup Asian qualifiers.
Lee and Sangalang will be leading Magnolia's bid for the Governors’ Cup championship against Alaska in a series beginning on December 5. But before that, they will be vying for spots in Team Pilipinas' lineup for home qualifiers against Kazakhstan on Nov. 30 and Iran on Dec. 3.
Lee and Sangalang assured they will be ready for both competitions.
“We need to be ready every day,” said Lee. “Sa ngayon, focus is sa national team muna. Matagal pa naman ‘yung PBA Finals. ‘Yun lang siguro ‘yung pinaka-ano namin, maging ready lang kami at stay healthy after ng national team [duty].”
Sangalang said: “Medyo mahirap pero wala naman tayong magagawa. ‘Yun ang trabaho namin eh. Kailangan talaga maging ready ka lang kung ano ang dapat gawin.”
So far, Lee is the only one attending Team Pilipinas practices as Sangalang is nursing an unspecified injury. Lee, though, has yet to join the scrimmages.
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero is supportive of Lee and Sangalang’s bid to make it to national coach Yeng Guiao's Final 12.
“Para sa bayan ‘yun,” said Victolero. “It’s their job also to serve the country. Naniniwala ako dun. Professional sila. They also have to serve the country. Maba-balance naman natin ‘yan. Beneficial din kay Paul at Ian dahil tuluy-tuloy ‘yung competition nila."
Lee said it will be a tough balancing act helping Team Pilipinas in its push for a spot in the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China and at the same time trying to stay healthy for the best-of-seven series against Alaska.
“May PBA Finals, ayaw naman natin na pumasok na pagbalik sa PBA Finals, medyo may nararamdaman tayo. ‘Yun ang duty natin eh. Ready lang ako lagi. Kung mala-lineup ako sa both games, one game, o kung hindi man ako ma-lineup, okay lang din,” said Lee.
“Dere-dereceho na ‘to,” Sangalang said. “Hindi pa ako nakakapunta sa Gilas dahil may ininda pa akong mga injury at kailangan ng mga check-up. Ma-lineup man ako o hindi, magiging masaya ako sa resulta.”