MANILA -- While La Salle is assured of a twice-to-beat advantage in the UAAP Season 86 Final 4, Jonnel Policarpio only has his sights set on the championship.
Policarpio had his breakout game against University of Santo Tomas in the second round, where he churned out a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds to go along with five assists, earning Best Player of the Game honors.
Since then, he has proven to be an invaluable part of Coach Topex Robinson's rotation.
He followed up the UST game with 15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 1 block to finish with a game high +17 coming off the bench against National University.
A former NCAA juniors defensive player of the year, Policarpio proved his efforts were no fluke as he delivered 11 points, eight rebounds, and five assists against the University of the Philippines, again while coming off the bench.
La Salle ultimately ended the second round undefeated, with Policarpio contributing in their crucial win against Ateneo with nine points and five rebounds while drawing fouls from Blue Eagles center Joseph Obasa to keep him at bay.
"Sabi sa akin ni Coach Topex na pagkuha ko ng bola pag siya yung bantay ko drive-an ko ng drive-an, go hard to drive para mismatch daw," Policarpio said of his match-up against the bigger Obasa.
Although he started the last game, the 21-year-old rookie from Macabebe, Pampanga says he has no problems with coming off the bench nor playing limited minutes for La Salle.
"'Pag nilalabas ako, okay lang para sa akin... Nakakapag-pahinga ako, [at] 'pag nakabalik ako, makaka-contribute ako," Policarpio said.
He added: "Ako trabaho lang, then yun sinusunod ko yung sistema namin tapos double effort lang para sa team kami naman lahat dino-double namin yung effort namin."
With University of the East's Precious Momowei out of the running for Rookie of the Year honors, Policarpio has emerged as a contender but he insists it is the farthest thing from his mind.
"Para sa akin deserve ni Momowei yun and deserve na deserve ni Momowei 'yun," he said. "Ako, kung ano lang darating, okay lang sa akin."
"Pero mas gusto ko maging champion," he stressed.