Yeng Guiao slowly breaks in Paul Lee with RoS backcourt stepping up

With the full complement of guards at his disposal, Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao won’t be forced to play combo guard Paul Lee for extended minutes when they face San Miguel Beer in Game 1 of their Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Guiao explained that rookie Maverick Ahanmisi, sophomore guard Jericho Cruz and veteran Chris Tiu are playing excellent basketball this conference.

The trio’s heads-up plays easily covers the spot of Lee, who has not seen that much action in the mid-season, import-spiced conference as he recovers from a knee injury.

“Definitely, ako din, less pressure sa akin because I don’t have to force Paul into winning the game for us and overworking himself,” Guiao told FOX Sports, whose team faces the powerhouse Beermen in the lone 5 p.m. match

The fiery Rain or Shine coach cited that Ahanmisi, the Fil-Nigerian rookie, has been playing steady basketball this conference.

The team’s no. 3 overall pick last year was brilliant off the bench after scoring 13 points, grabbing 4 rebounds and issuing 4 assists in Rain or Shine’s 102-89 beating of Ginebra on their way to posting a 2-game quarterfinal sweep.

“Pati si Maverick, malaking tulong sa point guard chores, so di na kailangan solohin ni Paul lagi,” he said.

“In fact, nagagamit ko na si Maverick sa crucial stretch ng game because he’s steady, smart, he can score and plays defense,” added Guiao, who is currently running for re-election as congressman in the 1st district of Pampanga.

Meantime, the six-foot Lee said he’s not rushing his return nor demanding longer playing time from Guiao.

“The whole team talaga kahit may na-injury, walang magbabago. Kasi simula nung pumasok ako dito, binaon sa amin ni coach Yeng to just play hard and play as a team kaya ito siguro maganda kinalalabasan namin,” said Lee, whose team barged into a franchise-best 9th straight semifinal appearance.

Lee is averaging just 4.0 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists in the 8 games he has played this conference. – By Richard Dy

Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava