Photo by the PBA Media Bureau
The Leethal Weapon is ready to help Magnolia avoid falling into a 3-1 hole
Paul Lee may have played his best game in the Philippine Cup finals, scoring 15 points and dishing out 7 assists but he failed to lead the Magnolia Hotshots to a victory as the San Miguel Beermen dominated in the 4th quarter, en route to a 111-87 victory in Game 3 of the best-of-7 championship series which moved the Beermen to 2-1. And Paul Lee was one of the reasons why the Hotshots lost Game 3.
To give credit to the Leethal Weapon, he scored 13 points in the first half alone, 9 of them came in the second quarter when the Hotshots trimmed down a double-digit deficit to just 50-49 by halftime. Then he vanished, again.He missed all of his shot attempts in the second half and what's worse was that he hurt his middle finger with under 9 minutes to go in the 4th quarter and the Beermen were already slaughtering Magnolia on the court.
Shrugging off the injury
With Magnolia already without Marc Pingris and Justin Melton, losing Paul Lee, again, will definitely be a big blow to the Hotshots. Fortunately for Magnolia, Paul Lee knows one thing: it's difficult to win a championship if you're down 3-1 in the series. Especially against an experienced team like the Beermen. Paul Lee said that he is willing to play through pain for Game 4 in hopes that the Hotshots will wake up in time if they want to extend this series to a Game 6, to say the least.
However, let's assume that Paul Lee does play in tomorrow's Game 4. The question is: will he be able to really shrug off the pain in his finger knowing that he will be going up against the dynamic backcourt duo of Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross? It's likely that Paul Lee will struggle on the offensive side and will be vastly turnover-prone all throughout the game. But then, Paul Lee is still Paul Lee and if there's a will, there's always a way. The Hotshots only need to hope that Paul Lee won't be shooting bricks like he did during the second half of Game 3.
With Paul Lee playing hurt, Mark Barroca and the rest of the Hotshots need to pick up the slack and the pace if they want to stay alive in this championship series. However, given the fact that the Beermen have already switched the momentum towards their side, it's almost safe to say that they will win tomorrow. But who knows? Hotshots Coach Chito Victolero might be able to pull out something from his sleeves. MIGHT.