MANILA — De La Salle University rode an eight-game win streak to end the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball tournament.
They have also managed to defeat all eight teams in the league, the last one being their first-round tormentors and bitter rival Ateneo de Manila University, and this allowed them to secure at least a playoff for a twice-to-win advantage heading into the Final Four.
But this, according to La Salle star Mike Phillips, is still just a part of the Taft-based squad’s journey in hopes of finally winning the UAAP hoops title yet again.
“Malayo na, pero malayo pa,” said the 6-foot-8 former Gilas Pilipinas big man during post-game.
“We still got a long way to go, this is just a great game today, going against our archrivals. I mean, naubos na ako, naubos ang whole team, but they’re tired too. They fought hard and they fought so well. I just give credit to Ateneo for giving us such a tough win.
“Hopefully, we can use this momentum going into the final four.”
The 21-year-old explained that this journey stems back from Season 85 wherein they missed the last ticket to the postseason after being eliminated by the Adamson Soaring Falcons, and DLSU used that experience as motivation throughout this year.
“Andyan pa ‘rin yung masamang lasa na hindi makapasok sa Final Four last season. We just really try to use that as fuel and experience, those mistakes stay as mistakes,” he said.
“We just try to keep this momentum going, lahat ng tinuturo ni coach [Topex Robinson] sa amin is really going to fruition now.”
But for La Salle to take home the trophy back to Taft Avenue, Phillips understands that there is still much more work for the men in Green to be able to achieve this goal.
‘For us to move further, we have to really trust the coach and trust his system, lahat ng work ni Coach Topex and lahat ng behind the scenes from the coaching staff. I’m glad I have these coaches, these players, and that’s gonna help us go and use that experience to go as far as we can.”