MANILA, Philippines — Michael Phillips is grateful to graduating big man Justine Baltazar for giving him confidence leading to a stellar rookie year at La Salle in the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball tournament.
The 19-year-old forward, who received his Mythical 5 plum along with Baltazar, shared that he has looked up to senior teammate even when was still in the United States.
“Balti always tells me to trust yourself. He’s my inspiration and idol in the team and the whole UAAP. Even I was in the United States,” Phillips told the reporters in Filipino.
“I was grateful. I learned a lot from Balti, how to lead a team… I was really depending on our coach Derick Pumaren, one of the best. Just taking me, taking it step-by-step, game-by-game and in the offseason, just trying to do my best,” he added.
Phillips, who once tallied 26 rebounds in the game, also said that h basketball idol is Dennis Rodman, whom Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin compared him to in their first round duel.
The La Salle rookie said he learned from the NBA legend to help his team in any way he can, especially in rebounds.
“I really want to help my team in any way I can. Really looking forward to the next season,” said Phillips, who was the runner-up of this season’s Rookie of the Year Carl Tamayo of University of the Philippines.
Phillips, who tallied 8.13 points, 12.0 rebounds, 1.31 blocks, 1.25 assists, and 1.06 steals this year, will be leading the Green Archers without Baltazar in Season 85, which is set in September.
The Filipino-American forward is ready to take charge and use all the learnings he got from his idol-turned-teammate.
“I learned a lot of things this season. I will bring a lot of learnings I can carry with me to the next season,” Phillips said.
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