TO see Gilas Pilipinas guard Paul Lee stand on the stripe for three free throws with no time left and the stadium full of Chinese fans jeering can be quite daunting.
Not so for Lee himself.
The hero of Gilas' heart-stopping 80-79 win over host China in the battle for third place in the Fiba-Asia Cup in Wuhan said he has always been comfortable in such nerve-wracking situations.
The 24-year-old Rain or Shine combo guard said he got used to those type of situations from the time he was growing up in the streets of Tondo playing those shooting contests more popularly known as 'piso-piso.'
“Sanay ako dun. Alam mo ba 'yung alilaan na laro. Lagi ko nilalaro yun noon eh,” Lee disclosed to Spin.ph, just a day after the entire Gilas team arrived from Wuhan, China.
The numbers bear out Lee's claim.
As per data provided by PBA chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III, Lee ranked third in free throw shooting in the just-concluded season, next only to Gilas teammates LA Tenorio of Ginebra and Jimmy Alapag of Talk 'N Text.
Lee went 169-of-205 from the stripe for an 82.4 percent shooting clip this past season. The former University of the East star is in fact a career 80.1 percent free-throw shooter (450-of-562).
The Gilas new boy said his desire to win a podium finish for the country in the Fiba Asia Cup served as his biggest motivation, although that had not distracted his focus as he stood on the foul line with the game on the line.
“Talagang wala akong ibang iniisip 'nun kundi itira ko lang at ipasok 'yun. Madaming umaasa at nagdadasal para sa akin,” Lee recalled.
“Hindi ako nagpa pressure kahit sigaw nang sigaw yung mga Chinese fans,” he added.
After calmly and almost nonchalantly making the three game-winning free throws with no time left, Lee said the feeling was beyond compare.
“Saka iba 'yung feeling na ipanalo ang bansa mo. Tulad ngayon ang saya-saya ko. Saka kahit bronze lang yun, sa amin parang gold na yun. China pa, hometown ang tinalo namin eh,” he said.