For Ginebra’s LA Tenorio, Paul Lee’s absence from the Gilas Pilipinas pool has robbed the team of its best possible backcourt tandem.
Tenorio believes the Rain or Shine guard would have made a lethal tandem with former FIBA Asia Mythical Five member Jayson Castro when running the floor for the nationals.
“I think aside from Jayson (Castro), Paul is the perfect player na fit talaga sa system na ito. I think coach Tab could attest to that, na this system is iikot talaga kay Paul Lee at Jayson Castro,” Tenorio said after Tuesday’s morning practices at Meralco Gym. “Yung dalawang guard ang inaabangan talaga. I think that’s the best guard tandem na makikita sana natin kasi hindi natin sila nakita sa Fiba Asia.”
Lee sat out last year’s Fiba Asia campaign, where Castro and naturalized center Andray Blatche led the squad to another silver medal finish.
Unfortunately, that will also be the case this year as the Rain or Shine guard begged off from the national team pool due to his lingering left knee injury.
“Malaking bagay na nawala si Paul. Sayang. It’s another setback, stepback na naman para sa amin, lalo na kung kami-kami ulit ang magkakasama. Mapapadali sana sa mga leader dito o datihan kasi pag nagsasama-sama kami ng mga yan, dalawa o tatlong practice lang, OK na kami. Ganun ka-instinctive na pag nagkampi kami, magkakilala na kami ng automatic,” Tenorio said.
The Ginebra playmaker said that Lee’s contributions to Gilas Pilipinas is invaluable and no one can replicate the things that the Rain or Shine guard brings to the table.
“Malaking bagay sya,” he said. “Not one or two players ang kayang mag-fill in sa shoes ni Paul Lee.”
With Lee out, the responsibility now lies with the remaining guards in the pool as Gilas Pilipinas hopes to pull the rug from under some of the world’s best in the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament in July here.
“I think everyone should step up. Malaking bagay ang nagagawa ni Paul. He can attack, spot up, dish out, he can defend. We just have to step up,” he said.
While injuries have hampered Gilas Pilipinas in its Rio bid with already three players out and some still hurting, Tenorio remains confident of the talent in the pool.
“Meron pa namang ibang options and I’m very confident sa mga natirang guards. Kung sino man ang mapapasama sa final 12 is going to be tough and it’s still going to be a very talented team. I’m sure coach Tab (Baldwin) has a plan for that,” he said.