UAAP: La Salle’s Michael Phillips impresses Tab Baldwin
MANILA, Philippines — Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin praised La Salle rookie Michael Phillips’ energy and athleticism in their rivalry match in the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball tournament.
Phillips rose to the occasion for La Salle with his double-double 13 points and 10 rebounds including three blocks before his team absorbed its first defeat at the hands of rival Ateneo, 74-57, last Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Baldwin believes the 6-foot-8 center has the potential to become a Dennis Rodman type of rebounder.
“He has a tremendous work ethic, his energy level is extremely high. He’s very athletic, cut, long arms and he pursues the ball every time,” said the Ateneo coach.
“When you have those attributes, if he ever really learns how to read where rebounds are going to go, he can be a Rodman-esque rebounder with the way that he pursues the ball and his physical attributes. A lot of credit to him.”
The 19-year-old lifted La Salle in the first half to keep Ateneo within striking distance. Thanks to Ange Kouame, the Blue Eagles were able to neutralize Phillips and unleashed a second half outburst to stay unbeaten in four games.
“The guy sitting over here [Ange], really kind of figured it out in the second half of the third quarter, and in the fourth quarter, and he did a great job on Michael. He negated what would have been a real problem for us,” said Baldwin, thanking Kouame in the post game.
The Gilas Pilipinas naturalized center is looking forward to another match-up against the Filipino-American rookie.
“I think it was like a motivation for me. Like coach said, I kind of negated him in the beginning of the first quarter, so I have to learn how he moves, and how his team is using him,” Kouame said. “It’s a great learning experience too. It’s just for me to get prepared for all situations, and he was a tough one to go against. I’m looking forward to the same matchup again.”
Although Phillips rose to the occasion in his first Ateneo-La Salle game, his playalso sees it the same way, La Salle coach Derick Pumaren said his young big man still has a lot of things to learn as they try to regain their winning ways against University of Santo Tomas (2-2) on Tuesday at MOA Arena, where fans will be back for the first time.
“Michael will be giving us that intensity that we need, that spark that we need especially on the boards,” he said. “But because of us probably making a lot of mistakes, he got tired, too, and lost steam in the second half. But he still gave us the boards we needed.”