‘Punched in the mouth,’ Mike Phillips vows fightback by Archers
Mike Phillips would have wanted a different flavor for La Salle’s return to the UAAP Finals.
“[E]verybody hates this taste [of defeat]. I don’t like this taste, especially if it’s a La Salle-UP game,” Phillips said on Wednesday after the University of the Philippines (UP) Maroons roughed up the Archers in Game 1 of the men’s basketball title series, 97-67.
The defeat was more than bitter. UP forged the widest margin of victory in a championship game in the Final Four era and also made La Salle look like a mere footnote in the series.
But the Archers have no other recourse but to swallow that loss and move on.
“There’s no time for us to really cry over spilled milk,” said coach Topex Robinson. “If this is one of the records of the worst loss in the finals, we could also do something about it. We know what championship basketball is all about and we know what it takes and we just have to really be prepared for that.”
“We got punched in the mouth [but] we can’t let this break us,” Phillips, who had 19 points and nine rebounds in Game 1, said.
Game 2 is scheduled for Sunday and to force the series into a knockout duel for the crown, La Salle has to pick up on the physicality that marked the opening game.
Too many turnovers
“We didn’t get the memo that this is gonna be [tough] … as far as the physicality of the game is. So we have to be ready that it’s gonna be the same. [A]t this point, as much as we wanna complain about some things, we just wanna really focus on ourselves,” Robinson said.
That would mean cleaning up certain aspects of their game. Of the statistical departments Robinson’s crew lost out on, the most glaring one was that La Salle had 18 turnovers against seven by UP. That led to a 24-2 edge in turnover points for the Maroons.
That’s a lot of free points surrendered to a team that already finished No. 1 in the standings.
The Archers also have to find a way to hit their targets. The team misfired horribly from behind the arc, making just two three-pointers from 23 attempts.
“We have to go back to trying to figure out how we’re gonna get our guys in a better situation to succeed,” Robinson said.
For Phillips, the defeat may have left a bad taste in the mouth, but it’s something they can overcome despite being Finals newcomers. After all, it’s something they had overcome already before.
“Even if this was our first Finals, we’ve been in this situation before,” Phillips said. “You know, we’ve lost together, we’ve won together. So we know now how this tastes [and] that will help us, moving forward.”
“It’s not our first loss—especially it’s not our first loss to UP,” he added.
But the Archers are hoping it will be the last.