MANILA, Philippines—In a neck-and-neck showdown against Phoenix in Game 2 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals, Magnolia turned to none other than Paul Lee to bail them out of danger.
It was no surprise that Lee, who has a long list of clutch shots to his name, nailed the three-point bomb to keep the pesky Fuel Masters at bay, 81-76, with 55.4 seconds left in the game.
Magnolia import Tyler Bey, who finished with a double-double of 25 points and 12 rebounds, needed not to look at the result of the veteran guard’s clutch shot.
“I already knew it was going in,” said the import at Mall of Asia Arena on Friday after their 82-78 win. “That’s just Paul. He already knows that when he gets the shot, he’ll take it and make it. That’s why I love it.”
Lee only had six points in the win that pushed the Hotshots to a win away from the PBA Finals, but his bucket came at the timeliest of times for Magnolia. In fact, the streaky shooter had gone 1-of-4 before his late triple.
But if coach Chito Victolero had anything to say about it, he didn’t doubt Lee one bit. That’s what eight years of familiarity get you.
“I have known Paul for eight years now and I know he can hit any shot. He made a lot of shots in our previous games. He made those against Ginebra, NLEX and more. Even in his Rain or Shine days, he’s already like that,” said Victolero.
“And those shots, he practices those. Every single day, he’s in the gym or court and he’ll practice those shots… Even ones from 35 feet away from the basket.”
Despite the close win, though, the Victokero believes there’s no room for the same situation in Game 3.
“That’ll be the hardest game, the closeout game. I’ve been here before and I think we need to lock in now. we don’t need to celebrate, we haven’t achieved anything. We just try to prepare again and try to watch the film on how they came back on that double digit lead.”
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The Hotshots look to close out the series on Sunday at the same venue at 3 pm.