MANILA, Philippines -- Michael Phillips is ready to walk the talk for De La Salle University and take on a bigger role for the Green Archers in UAAP Season 85.
Phillips had an impressive rookie year, putting up 8.07 points and 11.43 rebounds per game to earn Mythical Team honors. His non-stop motor was crucial to La Salle as they made it to the Final 4.
Come Season 85, more will be expected from Phillips especially as the Green Archers have lost star big man Justine Baltazar to the professional ranks. Not only will he be relied upon inside the court, but Phillips is also tipped to be a leader for La Salle outside of it.
It's an expectation that Phillips said he is ready to meet.
"It's my second season na, so gusto kong maging leader as a team," Phillips said during the UAAP Season 85 press conference on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
"It's something na I've been saying since last season ended," he added. "It's something na I really want to add to my game and egg my teammates to be great in their own way, really use my experience to help them."
The Green Archers were busy during the preseason, winning the PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup and making it to the semifinals of the FilOil EcoOil Preseason Cup. They also traveled to Japan for more tune-up games.
Phillips said they are leaning on these experiences -- along with what they learned in Season 84 -- to push for a better result in Season 85.
"We kinda used everything as motivation and it brought the team together. For what we went through this offseason and just put up with everything just bonded the guys," he said.
"Our team bonding has really improved this season. It’s something that we have every game, we’re having fun playing together, and it’s nothing better than being with the guys," he added.
La Salle is widely expected to make the Final 4 and contend for the championship, but Phillips said they will maintain a "one game at a time" mindset.
"We're still a young team but we have one year of experience. Just staying together, know who you’re playing for, play for the Animo spirit, and that’s something we can use as fuel," he said.
Catch replays of UAAP Season 84 games via the UAAP Varsity channel on iWantTFC, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.