MANILA, Philippines -- Brothers Michael and Benjamin Phillips are determined to make up for a difficult campaign in UAAP Season 85 by focusing on what truly motivates them.
The De La Salle Green Archers fell well short of expectations in Season 85, as they did not even make it to the Final 4 after being tipped as a championship contender in the preseason.
Breaks were not on their side: a handful of players -- including Michael Phillips -- suffered injuries, and others had to serve suspensions.
Top gun Schonny Winston missed a crucial stretch of games due to a calf tear and did not play in La Salle's do-or-die game against Adamson University for the last spot in the Final 4. Also missing in that game was Michael Phillips [injury] and Kevin Quiambao [health and safety protocols].
Looking back on their season, Michael said that the Green Archers "had to remember our why, individually, and as a team."
"We met as a team, we met our brothers and really [said] hey guys, you know, let's really remember why we play, why we love the game and that really kind of helped us get out of that dry spell," said Michael during a recent event for adidas.
"Really, that's something that we can bounce back into for next season," he added.
The younger Phillips played in just 10 games this season, averaging 9.4 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.
Benjamin, the older of the two and one of the leaders for the Green Archers, said that they must keep their community in mind when they play, and this will be a primary motivation for them heading into Season 86.
"We're playing for the name on the front, and not the name on the back," said Benjamin. "We're gonna bring our why, looking up, even during our losses, all of the supporters and the fans and the community that were there, know that we're playing for something bigger than just ourselves."
La Salle head coach Derick Pumaren had been disappointed by their inability to play as a complete team throughout Season 85. The Green Archers had crucial victories over Ateneo, University of the Philippines, and National University, but injuries and health issues kept them from fulfilling their considerable potential in the tournament.
"Losing our missing key players, 'no, not having a complete line-up … As I've said, it's not an excuse for us," said Pumaren. "But I'm really surprised that we still got seven wins, in spite and despite of the things that happened to us."
"Even at the end, in our last game, we still missed three guys. So hopefully, this is something that we can work on, para for next season, we'll be there," he added.