Big load off Paul Lee’s back as he leads Magnolia to first title since James Yap trade
ANTIPOLO CITY—Paul Lee finally delivered on a promise.
The mercurial guard wasn’t just some new addition to the Magnolia franchise when he arrived in October 2016–he was the player that the Hotshots got in return for the iconic James Yap.
Replacing the club’s poster boy was a big task in itself but leading the team to a championship, something that Yap has done for seven times including the 2014 Grand Slam, is another beastly burden.
But Lee finally got a title to lighten the load that he carried on his shoulders for more than two years.
Lee helped the Hotshots claim their first title since the Grand Slam as they overcame Alaska in six games capped off with a resounding 102-86 Game 6 victory Wednesday in the PBA Governors’ Cup.
The championship was the first of Lee’s career with the Hotshots and it also lightened the load that he carried on his shoulders for two years.
“This is big because winning a championship was the first thing that I had to do when I got traded for Kuya James,” said Lee, who was with Rain or Shine first, in Filipino.
“The people will always expect me to win a championship with the Purefoods franchise.”
Lee and Yap were involved in that blockbuster of a trade before the start of the 2016-17 season that left the Philippine basketball community in a state of shock.
Yap was 34-years-old during the time of the trade and even though Lee, who’s seven years younger, had a similar skill set it was still seen as a surprise.
Lee carried a lingering pressure every time he stepped on the court for the Hotshots since he knew he was under a microscope but his Best Player of the Conference award in the Governors’ Cup and the title helped take away some of that burden.
He also hoped that this isn’t the last title that he’s going to win with Magnolia.
“I wish the blessings don’t stop coming,” said Lee who had 16 points in the final game of the season. “I’m just so happy right now and I couldn’t ask for anything more. I can’t put everything into words, I’m just very blessed this year.”
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