MANILA, Philippines—After one of La Salle’s preseason championships in Davao, Francis Escandor approached Mike Phillips and said some phrases that he would continue moving forward.
“Malayo na pero malayo pa.” (We’ve come a long way, but now we have a long way to go.)
After the Green Archers’ big win over Ateneo in the second round of the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Tournament, Phillips revealed that Escandor’s words resonated with him even after the crucial win that put them in first position for a double advantage.
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“Malayo na pero malayo pa. So we still have a long way to go. It was an incredible match today against our rivals, I lacked power but they were exhausted too. They fought hard and fought so well and I give credit to Ateneo for giving us such a tough and powerful victory and I hope we use that momentum once we get to the quarterfinals,” Phillips said after their 72-69 victory against the Blue Eagles. at the Araneta Coliseum on Saturday.
“I’m still trying to learn Tagalog and phrases like that sum up a lot in just a few sentences… It kind of stuck with me. Whenever you hear phrases like that and “Kobe’s job isn’t done”, I love seeing that mindset, it rubs off on me.
Phillips, with his new proverb in hand, led La Salle to its eighth straight victory with a double-double of 10 points and 14 rebounds.
The 6ft 10in man, however, is aware that their steamy streak shouldn’t be a reason for them to inflate their egos. Despite everything, “malayo na pero malayo pa” applies to them with the ultimate objective of winning a title that is however distant.
“Even with this (second-round) sweep, I don’t want us to be boastful but just to stay humble and really do our part to stay ready for whoever we face.”
The Green Archers finished second in the last four races with a two-to-beat advantage after the top three placings were determined at the end of the elimination round on Sunday.
They will face Nationwide College, who finished third, armed with a win-once bonus.
But even before La Salle finds out who it might face in the quarterfinals, which begin Nov. 25, Philips said the team is preparing for the toughest situation.
“This is one of the most difficult issues within the UAAP. Everyone can play and they are at that level, but like coach (Topex Robinson) says, it’s hard to say who we will play,” he said.
“What we will do is be as prepared as possible. We have played each team twice now, but you all know that when it comes to the last four, iba talaga (it’s different).
Mike Phillips embodying “malayo na pero malayo pa”…
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