Larry out, Lee in?

Edsa Shangri-La Hotel
July 24, 2014
Larry out, Lee in?

On a rainy Thursday afternoon, my wife and I decided to take the MRT on our way this posh hotel in Mandaluyong where a press conference awaits her. Cramped as expected, we managed to find our space standing in the second of this old multi-coach train plying traffic-infested Edsa. As we’re approaching the Guadalupe station, we saw this massive billboard by Max’s Restaurant where Gilas Pilipinas’ Larry Fonacier, Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio were standing with their right hand positioned on their left chest. And there was the word PUSO (Heart) on it. It turned out Larry Legend, one of Sportsmaryosep’s players during his Ateneo days and still is, will not be bringing it to Spain. This came after Gilas coach Chot Reyes Twitted that Fonacier has begged off from playing in the FIBA-World Cup scheduled August 30 to September 14 due to health reasons.

And here’s how Reyes said it:

It is w deep sadness that we have to accept Larry’s request to beg off the Gilas pool for the meantime. Unknown to many, Larry has been playing through a variety of foot and back injuries that have bothered him the past 2 years; and it is only his great dedication that has prevented him from taking anytime off. However, the rigors of playing almost non-stop in the PBA and national team for the past 3 years has taken its toll, leaving Larry with no recourse but to accede to his doctors orders for complete rest & rehabilitation. We will definitely miss Larry’s quiet leadership and unyielding heart.

Now who will take that spot Fonacier vacated?
You’re guess is as good as mine. Who else but Paul Lee. The “Lee-thal Weapon” have been on a tear lately as he came perhaps a few shots from lifting Rain or Shine to another PBA title or preventing Tim Cone and San Mig Coffee from taking home the rare Grand Slam. Lee also made the three cold-blooded free throws that lifted Gilas to an 80-79 squeaker of a win over the Great Wall of China that clinched the bronze medal in the FIBA-Asia Cup just a week ago. Reyes though didn’t immediately say it’s Lee, saying he will make the announcement on the deadline for the submission of lineups in Spain.

paul lee

Here’s what Reyes told

“Nope,” came the quick response from Reyes. “All it (Fonacier’s pullout) does is open up one slot (for the World Cup and Asian Games).” When we pointed out that the Rain or Shine guard is the more logical replacement for Fonacier over Dillinger, Washington, and Belga, the Gilas coach pointed out that there are no set positions in his team. “If you noticed, I even started using Ranidel (De Ocampo) as a shooter in the Fiba Asia Cup,” said Reyes, who nonetheless praised Lee’s impressive outing in Wuhan. “We won’t deny that, maganda talaga nilaro ni Paul sa Fiba Asia Cup. But no one has a lock on a spot (in the World Cup team). And I’m being honest when I say that.” Reyes also ruled out adding another member to the pool, saying it is too late for that. Gilas leaves on Friday for a training camp in Miami, kicking off a rigorous run of training and tune-up games leading up to the World Cup set August 30 to September 14 in Spain. “Masyadong madami ng hahabulin kung kukuha pa kami ng bago,” said Reyes. “As it is, we’re leaving tomorrow (for Miami), so I think it’s too for that.” So when will we know who the Magic 12 will be for the World Cup, Reyes was asked. “I’ll be announcing it on the deadline for the submission of lineups for the World Cup,” Reyes said. “Right now, we still have no idea when that would be.”


lee gilas
Sportsmaryosep’s prognosis: We’re sad for Fonacier. But when its for flag and country, we have to set aside personal feelings. Whoever gets the honor to fill in the Fonacier void, Sportsmaryosep gives its full support. But we think it’s Paul Lee. Or should be Paul Lee.
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

lee gilas1

(Photos courtesy of, Roy Afable of InterAktv, PBA online)


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