Michael Phillips finally fulfilled his dreams as a De La Salle Green Archer by winning the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
What made the achievement sweeter was that he and his brothers – captain Ben and rookie Isaiah – pulled off a rare milestone by being part of the same champion squad in the UAAP.
And for being part of La Salle’s 10th champion team in UAAP history, the Season 84 Mythical Five awardee, who averaged 15.6 points and 10.3 rebounds in the Finals series, paid homage to coach Topex Robinson.
He credited Robinson for leading him, his siblings, and the rest of the Green Archers across the finish line for the first time since Season 79.
“I think a lot of credit, of course, is gonna go to Coach Topex for the on-the-court stuff. But I think, one of the biggest things I’m proud to have this guy as my coach is all the work he put in to build the environment that we have on the court, in the locker room, in practice, in dinners, and on the bus,” said the 32nd Southeast Asian Games gold medalist.
“That’s really what keeps us in the game and keeps us through hardships. He gives us the freedom in everything we do. He gives us the freedom to make mistakes and learn but as much as we bicker and fight, he always has our backs.”
When Robinson first entered the halls of La Salle, he sought to impose a different type of culture than what the school’s men’s basketball program was used to.
If before there was the ‘angas’ pressing game brought by the Pumarens and Aldin Ayo, now it was about the ‘Love, Serve, Care’ that he instilled in the Lyceum Pirates.
It is safe to say that the 21-year-old center was one of the players who immediately bought into what the former San Sebastian Stags head coach wanted to do for the team.
With the championship under their belts, every sacrifice made to get to this moment has already paid dividends.
“I’m learning so much from him. I’m growing as a young Christian and as a young man. When we get into those moments on the court when it’s a grind, we look back at all the things he prepared us for off the court that really helped us do what we did today,” he said.
“A lot of credit to coach for creating that winning environment.”