MANILA, Philippines – Head coach Yeng Guiao gave Paul Lee the license to shoot; Lee shot the lights out.
Lee tied a career-high 25 points to propel Rain or Shine past Barangay Ginebra 102-89 for the last semifinals slot Sunday in the 38th PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Sabi ni coach just keep shooting, tumira ako nang tumira so pumasok naman and that was it (Coach told me to just keep shooting, so I kept on shooting and they hit the mark),” Lee, who displayed a shooting clinic in the third quarter, told INQUIRER.net.
“Again we had to do it the hard way, wala naman sigurong ibang paraan (there’s no other way). We took a longer route but we made our destination,” said Guiao. “In game 2, we were kind of surprised with the zone they threw on us and yun ang pinaghandaan namin (and we prepared for it).
“Matias hit some shots, especially Lee and Gabe hit some shots and that’s the makeup of this team. We don’t have superstars, not even Paul Lee, we don’t consider him as a superstar,” Guiao added.
The Elasto Painters, who setup a Governors Cup Finals rematch with San Mig Coffee Mixers in a best-of-seven semis series, broke the game wide open in the third quarter behind Lee.
The sophomore sensation unleashed 14 points out of his team’s 29-point third period, where the E-Painters zoomed to a 25-4 run to pull away from a 47-deadlock 72-51 off a nifty layup by Gabe Norwood at the 4:00 mark.
The Kings, who forged the rubber match after escaping with a 79-77 win in game two, pulled to within seven 72-79 after a free throw by Billy Mamaril with 7:56 left.
Guiao put Lee and Norwood back in the game after a long breather as ROS restored order. Lee announced his return on the floor with a step back three which was followed by two free throws by Jervy Cruz to push their team’s lead back to 12, 84-72, with 6:44 remaining.
Norwood added 21 points, his most in three seasons, to go along with four rebounds and six assists while Jervy Cruz chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds.
“Maganda itong series na ‘to. Hindi magiging madali ito para sa dalawang teams. Panigurado paghahandaan nila kami kasi babawi sila. Game 1 pa lang bakbakan na (This will be a good series. This will not be easy for the two teams. I’ very sure they will prepare for us because they want to get even),” said Lee, who missed only three of his 11 shots in the field, on their much-awaited series with the Mixers which starts on Wednesday.
Mamaril and LA Tenorio paced Ginebra with 20 points each. Mamaril also grabbed 10 rebounds and had six blocks.
Reigning MVP Mark Caguioa struggled with just 14 points on five-of-18 shooting.
RAIN OR SHINE 102 – Lee 25, Norwood 21, Cruz 12, Belga 11, Matias 9, Tiu 7, Rodriguez 6, Quinahan 6, Chan 5, Tang 0, Arana 0.
GINEBRA 89 – Tenorio 20, Mamaril 20, Caguioa 14, Maierhofer 11, Helterbrand 9, Ellis 4, Wilson 4, Hatfield 4, Taha 3, Labagala 0, Espiritu 0.
Quarters: 27-27, 47-47, 76-64, 102-89