‘Tip of the iceberg’: Pumaren raves about Michael Phillips’ leadership potential

JR Isaga

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‘Tip of the iceberg’: Pumaren raves about Michael Phillips’ leadership potential

La Salle star prospect Michael Phillips skies high above the competition in skills and potential

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UAAP Season 84 Mythical Five member Michael Phillips quickly shows glimpses of a huge sophomore leap in the PBA D-League, and La Salle is eager to reap the rewards of their new leader's growth

MANILA, Philippines – For the first time since the UAAP Season 84, Fil-Am sensation Michael Phillips is back playing for La Salle in the PBA D-League after a Mythical Five-worthy rookie campaign for the Green Archers.

The 6-foot-8 forward’s improvement quickly went on full display as La Salle annihilated UST, 112-82, in its Aspirants’ Cup debut last Saturday, July 9.

Phillips – playing without graduated mentor Justine Baltazar and the entire core guard rotation of Schonny Winston, Evan Nelle, and Mark Nonoy – wasted not one second of his 22-minute run as he tallied 23 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks against the hapless Growling Tigers defense.

That was all La Salle head coach Derick Pumaren needed to see to rave about his prized ward after the game – not that he needed any more proof about his sky-high potential.

“The upside of Michael is very high. We’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg with Michael. He’ll continue to improve,” said Pumaren.

Michael’s older brother Ben also got in on the action, and tallied 16 points and 8 boards, while stand-in starting guard Penny Estacio shone in his new role with 11 points and a game-high 9 assists.

“The good thing is [Michael] really works. He puts time to improve his game. We’re expecting a better and different Michael when the UAAP starts in October,” Pumaren continued. “We will still continue to work on it, and he still has to continue to put extra minutes and time for his game.”

Being only 18 years old, the younger Phillips brother has all the time in the world to hone his craft to match his natural talent and unteachable hustle, and right now, he does still have glaring offensive weaknesses from the free throw line, and anywhere outside the paint.

Phillips, however, is content on keeping things from a team-first perspective, and let his improvements come naturally with more practices and games with his fellow Green Archers.

“I think for our first game, we played well, we played hard. There were some mistakes here and there, but I’m sure we know with coach and their system, we’ll be there to correct them,” he said.

“I think, we just keep going, and use these games to gel, and get to know each other more as a team, and really establish our identity.”

Phillips and the rest of the rookie-laden La Salle squad will have a golden opportunity to test their mettle further as they go up against the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers featuring veterans Juan Gomez de Liaño and Jollo Go on Tuesday, July 12, 11 am. – Rappler.com

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