PBA Philippine Cup

Paul Lee bucks black eye as Magnolia nears semis

Delfin Dioquino
Paul Lee bucks black eye as Magnolia nears semis

GRITTY. Not even a black eye could prevent Paul Lee from propelling Magnolia to a convincing Game 1 win over Rain or Shine.

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Paul Lee shrugs off the swelling under his right eye and leads Magnolia past Rain or Shine with a timely fourth-quarter explosion

Hurt and all, Paul Lee does not shy away from winning time.

Lee chalked up a game-high 20 points even after sustaining a right black eye as Magnolia trumped Rain or Shine, 81-70, to draw first blood in their best-of-three PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals on Sunday, September 26.

Throwing up clunkers in the first half, Lee came to life in the last two quarters and fired 19 points to help Magnolia move on the verge of its first semifinal appearance since the 2019 Philippine Cup.

“When Paul struggles, I know that he will recover because he has immense confidence in himself,” said Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero in Filipino.

“Even if he did not make shots in the first half, he attracted the defense and opened up space for his teammates, for Ian (Sangalang), for Calvin (Abueva), for the other guys.”

“Points are not the only thing Paul contributes. Overall, his presence on the court is important.”

As if his offensive woes were not enough, Lee got hit with a double whammy as he sustained a swollen eye after slamming into Andrei Caracut during a drive attempt with two minutes left in the second quarter.

But Lee hardly got bothered by his minor injury, stealing the show when it mattered most by dropping 14 points in the fourth period.

Lee then sealed the win for Magnolia with a triple and a pair of free throws in the final 1:10 minutes, dashing all hopes of a Rain or Shine comeback.

“Paul only got a little bit less handsome. But we expect that,” Victolero said in jest about the physicality in the playoffs.

“Our bodies hurt, we get hit. This is the playoffs. Nobody wants to give an inch. That is nothing to him. He is from Tondo.”

Magnolia will try to get the job done as it shoots for a sweep when it meets Rain or Shine in Game 2 this week. – Rappler.com

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.