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MVP candidates Juan GDL, Mike Phillips focused on sending teams to the top

It’s team first over everything else.

Juan Gomez de Liano and Michael Phillips are more focused on leading their respective squads in the 2022 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup Finals amidst talk that they are among the frontrunners for the Most Valuable Player award.

“That’s not my goal for this tournament. I really wanna give one championship to Marinero knowing that they haven’t won any yet,” said the Marinerong Pilipino star. “If ever na manalo ako ng MVP, that’s just a bonus for me.”

EcoOil-La Salle’s versatile winger, on the other hand, said: “Siyempre I know that’s something that has been talked about but for me, mas focused ako in really building the team, really trying to be that winger.”

Both the young cagers showed how much they care more about team success in the do-or-die semis, Wednesday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

Phillips was a big reason why the Green Archers were able to book the first ticket to the Finals. He produced 14 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, four steals, and five blocks in their 97-74 blowout of Adalem Construction-St. Clare.

2022-PBA-D-League-Aspirants-Cup-UST-vs-La-Salle-Mike-Phillips MVP candidates Juan GDL, Mike Phillips focused on sending teams to the top Basketball DLSU News PBA D-League  - philippine sports news

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“Learning as much as I did from Balti (Justine Baltazar), ‘yun lagi sinasabi ko. Just try to fill those shoes as much as I can, trying to help unleash these guys and really show what they can do,” said the UAAP 84 Mythical Team member.

The Skippers followed suit thanks to Gomez de Liano. The former Tokyo Z import finished with 23 points, including eight points in the final 3:01 to tow his side to the pulsating 69-64 win over Apex Fuel-San Sebastian.

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“It was really all in our team mindset. I give credit to my teammates,” said the UP product, who also collected eight rebounds and six assists in the clincher. “They gave me a lot of confidence, especially in those crucial times.”

Gomez De Liano himself has the edge in the MVP race in terms of stats. Heading into the finale, the 6-foot gunner has per-game norms of a league-leading 18.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.2 steals.

Not that far behind, though, is the 6-foot-8 Phillips. He’s currently averaging 10.9 points, a league third-best 9.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.4 steals, and a fourth-best 2.1 blocks as he’s been doing a little bit of everything for his side.

As to who will hoist the highly-coveted plum won by some of today’s PBA stars will be known in Game Two of the best-of-three title series on August 24. But then again, the battle for the crown is far more important for the two.

2022-PBA-D-League-Semis-Marinerong-Pilipino-vs-San-Sebastian-Juan-Gomez-de-Liano MVP candidates Juan GDL, Mike Phillips focused on sending teams to the top Basketball DLSU News PBA D-League  - philippine sports news

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“Focus kami sa Finals,” Gomez de Liano said.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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