FOR Paul Lee, it would be like the FIBA World Cup qualifier again.
With fans not likely to be allowed to watch inside the playing venue once the PBA season is finally given the go-signal to resume, Lee is reminded of a similar case when Gilas Pilipinas played Qatar behind closed-door during the 2018 qualifying tournament for the world basketball championship.
The Magnolia Hotshot star guard has been there, done that.
"Na-try namin (Gilas). May window sa atin na sa Araneta (Coliseum) ginawa na wala talagang tao. Iba yung feeling," said Lee of that Sept. 17 game which the Filipinos won, 92-81.
Lee finished with eight points in the historic match.
There were just around 220 people inside the 22,000-seater Big Dome during the match, an atmosphere which the 31-year-old Lee described as similar to a regular scrimmage.
"Iba yung feeling nakakababa ng energy yung laro, parang iniisip mo na sa practice lang kayo or nagtu-tune-up lang kayo. Ganun yung feeling," recalled Lee.
But with the PBA expected to implement stricter health protocols if and when games are finally allowed to be played, there could even be less people inside the venue.
"Iba ang pakiramdam kasi first time na mangyayari (ito) sa atin sa PBA," admitted the 'Angas ng Tondo.'
Lee knows it's a guideline the league will have to adhere to for the safety of everybody.
And he's more than willing to abide by it even if it meant going through the same experience of the World Cup qualifier not just for a single game, but for the entire conference.
"Kailangan masanay tayo doon kasi yun lang ang puwede nating gawin," said the three-time PBA champion. "Ang importante lang dito ay makabalik tayong lahat sa gusto nating mangyari."
The league has already been given clearance by the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) for teams to finally resume their practices, though scrimmages and tune-up games are still not allowed. (RG)