MORE than just Paul Lee’s gutsy attitude every game, Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao believes his prized combo guard’s leadership quality stands out this season, thanks to his recent play with Gilas Pilipinas.
Lee, called up by the national squad just before the Fiba World Cup in Spain and Incheon Asian Games, continues to shine for the injury-riddled Rain or Shine side that has surprisingly won its last five contests.
“Definitely, merong factor yan, because when you experience something like that, it adds to your confidence and it makes you more resilient,” Guiao told Spin.ph on Monday.
Guiao said he is no longer surprised to see the 25-year-old explosive guard make the right plays during crunch time, simply because he has taken a more mature approach to the game this season.
“Dati na naman eh may leadership quality na si Paul, pero mas nagma-manifest yung leadership qualities niya ngayon because of our situation na kulang kami,” he said, citing the injuries that have hit the team since the start of the season.
“But he (Lee) knows that he’s talented and respected by his teammates, so now, he has taken that leadership role.”
Lee has actually increased the level of his play in the team’s last two victories, averaging 22.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists to make up for the absence of gunner Jeff Chan (flu), Chris Tiu (hamstring), Jeric Teng (back) and Jervy Cruz (torn calf).
[See Iba na ang may pinagsamahan: Lee says chemistry helped Rain or Shine rise from grave]
The “Lee-thal Weapon” showcased his leadership qualities during the team’s 95-93 escape act against NLEX, the former Rookie of the Year scoring 10 of the Elasto Painters’ 15 points in a huge fourth-quarter performance.
Five days later, Lee pumped in 18 points, while making the crucial pass to Jonathan Uyloan, who made a huge three-point shot late in the game to tow Rain or Shine past defending champion Purefoods Star, 83-74.
[See Rain or Shine has subs TY Tang and Uyloan to thank after big win over Purefoods]
Lee’s huge performance made him the hands-down choice for the Accel-PBA Player of the Week for the period of Nov. 24-30, beating fellow Gilas mainstay and San Miguel Beer star center June Mar Fajardo.
Guiao also said he feels the former University of the East star has completely overcome the preseason controversies, involving his contract extension with the team.
“He’s gotten comfortable again playing for the team after the controversy he had during the offseason. So ngayon, he’s gotten to his usual place with the team kaya rin siguro umangat na ang laro niya,” explained Guiao.
The fiery Rain or Shine is hopeful that the Elasto Painters can make a successful hurdle of their last two games to seal a spot in the semifinals.
Only the top two teams at the end of the eliminations will get the two automatic semifinal slots in the ongoing PBA Philippine Cup.