Paul Lee stars as Painter nip Kings
MANILA, Philippines—If first impressions stick, then Rain or Shine has found a new go-to guy.
Unveiling a future league superstar in rookie Paul Lee, the Elasto Painters squeezed out a 94-93 decision over Barangay Ginebra to open their PBA Philippine Cup campaign on a high note at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The second overall choice in the Draft came off the bench to scatter 21 points, hand out eight assists and pluck down five rebounds in one of the best all-around debuts by a rookie in memory before a hostile pro-Ginebra crowd.
“It’s better to play as an underdog,” Lee said in Filipino. “Even while I was in college, I’ve always been the underdog. I love the pressure, especially when (Ginebra was rallying) and their fans were roaring.”
The 6-foot guard knocked down two free throws in the final 2:05 for a 93-85 ROS lead before the Painters survived a whirlwind finish by the Gin Kings.
Ginebra actually had a chance to tie the game with 1.3 seconds remaining when JC Intal was fouled by JR Quinahan while taking a three-point shot and Rain or Shine protecting a 94-91 lead.
Intal made the first two charities and blew his third attempt.
John Wilson, who gave up a foul to Jeff Chan with 20.9 seconds to go which resulted in a free throw split and that three-point Rain or Shine lead, grabbed Intal’s miss but muffed a fallaway which could have won it for the Kings at the buzzer.
“It was a big win for us. First day, first game,” coach Yeng Guiao, who missed the opening ceremonies after burglars broke into his Montero in Pampanga earlier, said. “There were opening-day jitters but we got over it.”
He then praised his rookie guard.
“Paul Lee is physically and mentally tough,” Guiao said. “That is special. You can’t coach that. It comes from him.”
Lee came into the game with the Painters trailing, 2-11, and shot 10 points which represented half of Rain or Shine’s total output in the first period. He also had two assists in the same quarter.
He practically had the entire offensive flow of the Painters in the palm of his hands for most of the game, controlling the tempo of the squad.
“I just came out there to try and play my game,” Lee said. “Coach and my teammates are giving me the confidence and it’s good that I was able to respond the way I did.”
RAIN OR SHINE 94 – Lee 21, Chan 18, Norwood 11, Buenafe 10, Cruz 8, Quinahan 7, Matias 6, Belga 4, Rodriguez 4, Ibanes 4, Arana 1.
BARANGAY GINEBRA 93 – Intal 16, Caguioa 16, Helterbrand 11, Tubid 8, Cortez 8, Wilson J. 6, Canaleta 6, Villanueva 6, Labagala 5, Mamaril 5, Wilson W. 4, De Ocampo 2, Cervantes 0.
Quarters: 20-19, 44-37, 77-62, 94-93.
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