Paul Lee says injury-hit Rain or Shine will endure in PBA semis
MANILA, Philippines – Despite odds stacked against the injury-stricken Rain or Shine, Paul Lee says they will endure in a bid to overcome the firepower of defending champion San Miguel in the 2016 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals.
“Basta magtulong-tulong kami, kaya namin yan (As long as we help each other, we can do this),” the 26-year-old guard said following the Painters’ lopsided 105-92 loss to the Beermen on Monday, January 11, making the best-of-7 series tied at 2-2.
Lee, who himself only just returned in the semifinals coming off a knee injury through most of the conference, admitted the injuries are taking their toll on a team used to a longer rotation.
“We lack a big man. I hope the team can take the loss of Raymond [Almazan] and Jericho [Cruz],” he rued in Filipino. “I hope at least Jericho can come back next game, even if not a hundred percent.”
“Kailangan lang magpakatatag kaming lahat (We just need to stay strong together),” he stressed.
The Painters were hit with a rash of injuries in their best-of-7 semifinals against the Beermen with center Almazan spraining his right ankle before Game 3 and guard Cruz hyperextending his left knee towards the end of Game 3.
Almazan is already out for the series while Cruz, who had to be stretchered out of the court and the arena then, was in uniform for Game 4 but did not play. Head coach Yeng Guiao said he will assess together with Cruz’s doctor and physical therapist whether or not the cager can play for Game 5 on Wednesday night, January 13.
The value of Almazan and Cruz was made evident in Game 4 when Rain or Shine was out-rebounded 59-37, and with big man June Mar Fajardo having his way in the paint for his 33 points and 16 rebounds, including 10 on the offensive glass.
“We got out-rebounded terribly and we're missing Raymond in that department,” Guiao said of the 6-foot-9 Almazan. “If you lose by that many rebounds, there's no way we can win the game.”
Meanwhile, Rain or Shine also missed the well of energy Cruz normally provided.
“We did not run as much as we wanted in (Game 4). We would have wanted to run, we kind of missed Jericho there. He's probably our best finisher in transition and he couldn't contribute,” Guiao noted.
Rain or Shine will try to bounce back from the loss and gain a crucial 3-2 series lead at 7 pm. (SCHEDULE: 2016 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals) – Rappler.com