De La Salle head coach Derrick Pumaren lauded Michael Phillips for providing the much-needed reinforcement in the paint and defensive stops in the Green Archers’ 75-65 win against the Far Eastern Tamaraws in the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City Thursday, March 31.
Phillips only scored six points but his rebounding prowess paved the way for Justine Baltazar and Kurt Lojera to spark a 9-0 run en route to a 71-61 lead with less than three minutes left in the payoff period.
Overall, the 6-foot-8 Phillips grabbed 16 rebounds and put up a good fight against FEU’s center Emmanuel Ojuola, who had 13 points and 12 boards.
Pumaren had nothing but praises for the Filipino-American for a job well done in keeping the Nigerian at bay, something that the veteran tactician addressed at halftime.
And for the two-time UAAP champion, there’s nothing really surprising as he witnessed how the 19-year-old forward worked hard in practice.
Also thanks to the veteran big men of De La Salle, Phillips’ efforts are slowly coming to fruition.
“Michael, he’s the livewire today,” said Pumaren. “He was very active, he outrebounded him (Ojuola), and he defended really well and he really played hard. That’s Michael for us, really.”
On the other hand, coach Olsen Racela saw Phillips as one big hurdle for the Tamaraws.
Racela actually saw it coming as he pointed this out as one of the reminders for his wards.
“We got totally outplayed by one guy, and that is Philips,” said the FEU tactician. “And I think our bigs should do a better job of bringing energy and intensity doon sa laro.
“In fact, if titignan niyo yung board namin pre-game. Ano nakalagay doon LJay?” asked Racela during the virtual press conference to which Gonzales responded: “Offensive rebounds ni Phillips.”
The PBA legend had no choice but to move on and learn from being outplayed in the paint, hoping that his big men would respond and be up for the challenge in their next encounter.