by Waylon Galvez
After bringing down some of his Gilas Pilipinas teammates in the quarterfinals, Magnolia star guard Paul Lee is about to take on his entire former team in the semis.
And if there is one player on the Magnolia Hotshots roster who knows ROS like the palm of his hand, it’s the sweet-shooting Lee.
The ace playmaker ran the ROS system during his first six seasons in the PBA, resulting in two championships with former E-Painters coach Yeng Guiao.
Even with Guiao gone (to NLEX) and assistant coach Caloy Garcia now calling the shots and installing some variations to the ROS offense, Lee recognizes pages from the old book.
“Nagbago lang sila ng patterns,” said Lee, who was originally selected by the franchise during the 2011 PBA Rookie Draft. “Pero pagdating sa dulo ng play, ganun pa din ginagawa nila.” [They start off different but finish in the same way.]
Nonethelesss, the E-Painters’ familiarity with each other presents real danger.
“Kahit na sabihin mong same yung ginagawa nila, dahil sa sobrang tagal na nilang magkakasama, alam nila yung galaw ng isa’t isa. Mahirap pa din bantayan kasi alam yung mga counters sa ginagawa sa kanila,” said Lee. [They have been together for so long that they can adjust to anything an opponent throws at them.]
“Yun yung mga kailangan naming paghandaan,” added Lee.
The sixth-seeded Hotshots arranged a best-of-seven semifinal showdown against the second-seeded Elasto Painters following an 85-72 win against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in their do-or-die Game 3 last Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Lee exploded for 25 points off the bench, torching the Kings with clutch baskets, shooting 9-of-15 from the field, including 5-of-8 from three-point territory with five rebounds and three assists.