PBA title perfect ending to Paul Lee's stellar year

ANTIPOLO CITY, Philippines – As if Paul Lee's 2018 couldn't get any better, he achieves another milestone. 

The 29-year-old star finally won a PBA title under the Purefoods franchise as Magnolia toppled Alaska in 6 games of the Governors' Cup finals on Wednesday, December 19.

Since the Hotshots traded former superstar James Yap to Rain or Shine for Lee in 2016, fans have wondered if the 29-year-old gunner will ever lead the team to a championship. 

After all, Yap had been the face of the franchise, which he helped clinch 7 PBA titles in 12 years.

But all that talk has already been buried as Magnolia notched its first championship since the 2014 Governors' Cup. 

"Syempre mabigat 'yun no. Lahat ng tao, 'yun 'yung tinitignan simula noong na-trade ako dito na kapalit si kuya James. 'Yun yung tinitignan ng tao kung makakapag-champion ba ako sa franchise ng Purefoods or Magnolia," he said. 

(Of course it weighed on me. Since I was traded here for kuya James, everyone was focused if I could be a champion under the Purefoods franchise or Magnolia.)

"At least nagawa namin. Lahat naman 'yun tulong tulong talaga kami. Sinabi ko na tulong tulong lang, maglaro tayo para sa bawat isa." 

(We finally did it. All of us worked hard for this. I just told them that we should work together and play for each another.) 

There has been no shortage of blessings for Lee this year as he returned to national team action as a member of the Philippine team that placed 5th in the 2018 Asian Games in August. 

Two months after, his wife Rubie gave birth to their first child Tokyo

Lee then won his first Best Player of the Conference award as the Hotshots dethroned two-time Governors' Cup champions Barangay Ginebra in the semifinals to barge into the finals. 

"Wala ng iba pang hihilingin," he said. "Napakagandang taon para sa akin. Sobrang na-bless ako sa taong ito. Sobrang happy."

(I have nothing to ask for. This has been a great year for me. I've been blessed this year. I'm super happy.) 

"Sana 'wag matapos 'yung blessings. I'm just very happy right now. Wala akong masabi. Talagang sobrang na-bless ako this year." 

(I hope the blessings continue to pour. I'm just very happy right now. I have nothing much to say. I'm just really blessed this year.) 

Lee goes on a well-deserved break before he and Magnolia return to work for the 2019 Philippine Cup, which starts in January. – 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.