E-PAINTERS’ BACKCOURT TANDEM SIZZLES
WITH Paul Lee in great shape and rookie guard Jericho Cruz delivering the hustle plays and other intangibles in the semifinals, Rain or Shine is off to another trip to the Finals in the Commissioner’s Cup.
Lee is averaging 18.5 points while shooting 46 percent from the three-point zone to help Rain or Shine grab a commanding 2-0 semifinal series lead against Meralco.
The former University of the East stalwart banged in a team-high 23 points, spiked by five triples as the Elasto Painters scored a come-from-behind 92-82 win over the Bolts in Game Two on Easter Sunday.
On the other hand, Cruz has come off the bench to provide the spark for the Elasto Painters with his 12.0 points per game average in the series.
But what draws a big smile from Guiao’s face these days is Cruz’s solid defensive effort against Meralco top gun Gary David in the 18-minutes-per-game average he’s getting in the series.
“The reason we took him (Cruz) in is because he plays this way. Ganyan naman talaga ang character niya at style niya because he has the toughness we’re looking for the team,” said Guiao of the former Adamson Falcon, the ninth overall pick in last year’s PBA rookie draft.
Cruz’s toughness on the defensive end has helped contain David, who is averaging just 15.5 points in the semifinals, while preventing “El Granada” from exploding in the second half.
Lee and Cruz’s outstanding effort in the series earned them the co-Accel-PBA Press Corps. Player of the Week for the period of March 30-April 5.
Guiao also praised Lee for working hard during the off season, which enabled the “Lee-thal Weapon” to stay sharp this season.
“Paul is in better shape this conference and this season than he was last year. He knew that he needed to be stronger and he needed to shed a few more pounds form last year,” noted Guiao.
“And the reason he’s playing better is because he’s in better shape. He’s playing in better shape because he’s more focused mentally,” he added. (RD)
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.