PBA brings back Christmas Day game for the first time since 2017
Paul Lee is slowly rounding back to form after a shoulder injury that held him back in Magnolia’s loss to TNT in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup finals.
He isn’t quite the lethal weapon yet in the Governors’ Cup. But he’s getting there.
“Still getting better. I continue to rehab my shoulder even if I’m no longer feeling anything,” Lee said after punching in solid numbers during Magnolia’s 114-87 shellacking of Terrafirma last Wednesday, the same night the league welcomed its fans back for the first time since the pandemic struck.
He had 16 points on 12 attempts after seeing action for 23 minutes. And he’s still hard at work to getting in tip-top shape.
“I need to keep on doing it. It also helps that I was able to rest for a bit and prepare my body as well,” Lee added.
He has a bit more motivation to continue doing so.
On Friday, the league announced its Christmas Day schedule and fittingly, Magnolia will battle defending champion Barangay Ginebra in the nightcap of that doubleheader at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“It would be amazing to play [on Christmas Day] considering all that happened in the previous years. It would also be amazing to be able to perform and entertain our fans,” said Lee.
The Hotshots going to battle against the beloved Gin Kings has always been a certified crowd-drawer for the league, a matchup that has never failed to generate box-office success for the PBA.
The last time Magnolia and Ginebra battled on Christmas Day, the Hotshots lost a one-sided affair at Philippine Arena in Bulacan, 89-78, in 2017.
But on this Christmas Day, the showdown will mean more than just a Yuletide present for the fans. It would hold so much significance for a league that is trying to inch back to normalcy.
The veteran Lee hopes that the league can go on for more days with fans in venues, if only to help the country, too, get back to its feet after a debilitating pandemic that has limited people’s way of life with all its required lockdowns and restrictions.
“I really hope [having fans in venues] goes on, especially for our country. I hope for our recovery to go hitch free so more and more fans can come back,” he said.
Raising the curtains on Christmas Day are NLEX and Phoenix Super LPG, early pace setters of this import-flavored tournament.
The day after, powerhouse San Miguel takes on Terrafirma, while TNT battles Rain or Shine in the other game.
The season-ending conference then goes on a break and then resumes on Jan. 5.
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