Michael Phillips ready to face challenges of the game—and life
Michael Phillips has a laundry list of things former Gilas big man Christian Standhardinger taught him over the course of the recent Southeast Asian Games, but the La Salle standout said that the lessons beyond the game are what will truly stay with him.
“I thought, OK, we could learn so much about the game, about these veterans and how to be basketball players. But Christian, he made the extra effort to really teach me everything outside basketball,” Phillips told the Inquirer after one of the Green Archers’ games in the FilOil EcoOil Preseason Cup.
“The mentality you should have, on how to carry yourself and all these other variables that I didn’t really think about like, say, food, body and your family. Just thinking long-term. And I think that’s really his impact on me,” he went on.
Fresh from a maiden stint with Gilas, Phillips, together with Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, were mentioned by Standhardinger as the next caretakers of the paint for the National squad.
The Filipino-American big man was key in Gilas’ blowouts of Malaysia and Singapore. More importantly, he hardly looked like a greenhorn in the first encounter with heavily-reinforced Cambodia, a performance that truly pleased Standhardinger, who recently retired from Gilas duty to allow younger players to shine while also taking some load off his aging knees.
‘Why you are playing’
“He actually gave me a lot of exercises to strengthen certain muscles. He said that he has [gone] through so many types of [rehabs] and it’s worked for him, so he gave me these routines and now, I’m doing them twice a day, man,” Phillips shared with a chuckle.
“But really, there are so much,” he said of Standhardinger’s pointers. “Not only by the game but really what it means to really play. He was emphasizing why you are playing, who and what are you doing all this for.
“It’s so easy to get caught up with all the games and think, oh OK. But you really have to go down to your roots, to what are our whys. It’s always bigger than just basketball.”
Now, Phillips hopes to pay tribute to his mentor by simply working hard, making the most out of each opportunity and then hopefully, paying it forward when it’s his turn to do so.
“That’s my mentor. I mean, I really look up to him and for him to say all that? It really means a lot to me so I really just want to, you know, work hard every day I have a chance,” he said.
“I say this over and over. On the very first day of practice, kulang ‘yung mga upuan for us. He went all the way to the other side and got these chairs. This is the first day and he sat us down and made us feel welcome, taking us under his wing,” he went on.
“It’s sad to Christian go, but I love what he has done for the culture and this team,” Phillips said.