MANILA, Philippines -- Michael Phillips made a big impression in his first season with De La Salle University, eventually making it to the Mythical Five of UAAP Season 84.
The 6-foot-8 big man averaged 8.07 points and 11.43 rebounds per game as a rookie, finishing as the second-best rebounder in the league after the elimination round. His 54.643 statistical points ranked second among rookies, just behind Carl Tamayo of the University of the Philippines.
"Marami akong natutunan sa season na ito. Maraming bagay na I can carry with me to the next season," said Phillips, who committed to La Salle out of Creekside High School in St. John's, Florida.
Expectations will be high for Phillips in his second season after an impressive debut campaign that included a 26-rebound game against University of the East.
The young center said he is ready to meet those expectations, thanks in part to what he learned from their team captain, Justine Baltazar, during their time together.
"Just laging may tiwala sa sarili mo. 'Yun ang laging sinasabi ni Balti. Siya ang inspiration ko, 'yung idol ko sa team at buong UAAP," said Phillips of Baltazar, who also made the Mythical Team in his final season with the Green Archers.
"I look up to him. Kahit nasa States ako, I idolize him. There's always trust yourself, play with your teammates, and trust the system," he added.
Although he only played one season with Baltazar, Phillips said he is grateful for the guidance of the veteran center who is now headed to Japan's B.League.
Those lessons and advice from "Balti" will continue to guide Phillips when he takes on a bigger role for the Green Archers in Season 85.
"Gusto ko lang matulungan ang team in any way I can. Really looking forward to the next season," said Phillips.