Ex-import Lee Gwan Hee credits PBA for improved form

Delfin Dioquino

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Ex-import Lee Gwan Hee credits PBA for improved form
The Korean hotshot – tabbed as Phoenix's Asian reinforcement in 2016 – says his PBA stint had a hand in his development as a player

MACAU – Korea’s Lee Gwan Hee may have neither won an individual award nor a championship when he suited up as a PBA import in 2016, but he sure didn’t return home empty-handed. 

Lee, who stars for the Seoul Thunders here at the Asia League Terrific 12, said his stint in Asia’s first pay-for-play league had a hand in his development as a player. 

“Because of the time I spent in the Philippines, I have confidence playing in abroad so that’s why I can do good in Japan, Macau, and the Philippines,” he said through an interpreter. 

The Korean hotshot was tabbed by the Phoenix Fuel Masters to be an import in the Governors’ Cup back when the PBA allowed teams to hire an additional Asian reinforcement with a height limit of 6-foot-3. 

Teaming up with the hulking Eugene Phelps, he helped the Fuel Masters advance to their first playoff appearance in franchise history. 

But that was the last time the PBA saw Lee in action after Phoenix succumbed to 124-136 quarterfinals loss to the twice-to-beat TNT KaTropa despite the import’s 24-point outburst on an efficient 9-of-10 clip on top of 6 boards and 3 dimes. 

“Definitely the time I spent in the Philippines helped me become a better player,” he added after firing 17 points and 4 rebounds as Seoul beat China’s Shandong, 85-73, on Wednesday, September 19 to reach the Terrific 12 semifinals. 

“Maybe Korea isn’t the place where I need to play,” Lee joked, drawing laughter from Filipino and Korean reporters. 

Lee and the Thunders face the Guangzhou Long Lions in the semifinals on Saturday, September 22, at the Studio City Event Center here. Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.