TAIPEI - Matthew Wright walked past a swarm of Filipino fans chanting his name as he made his way to the media center for the customary post-game interviews following Gilas Pilipinas' 88-72 win over Chinese-Taipei A in the 38th Jones Cup.
"Nope, I didn't even hear them," Wright said stoically when asked by one Filipino reporter about the scene.
That best shows the focus and cold-blooded approach to the game of this emerging Fil-Canadian wingman who, in the short time that he has been with the Gilas program, has staked a claim to the top gunner role previously played by Jeff Chan by Larry Fonacier.
The Phoenix rookie certainly didn't hurt his credentials in the first two games of Gilas in the 39th Jones Cup, where he has emerged as the national team's most consistent scorer by hitting nine points in a loss to Canada and a game-high 17 in the win over the hosts.
Wright is also making 50 percent of his three-point attempts (6-of-12) in this campaign - a welcome boost to a team that, with no clear advantage in size, must run and gun and make its outside if it hopes to do well in this 10-nation, nine-day conclave.
Asked to gauge Wright's performance and how he ranks in the Gilas hierarchy of top gunners, Chot Reyes said it's too early to tell, pointing out that the true measure of a great shooter is consistency which, he said, the likes of Chan and Fonacier have shown.
"Hard to say, because the measure of a shooter is consistency. Right now Larry Finacier and Jeff Chan are better, though they are in the latter parts of their careers," Reyes said of the two former Gilas standouts. "They are the benchmarks for me."
Reyes, though, made no secret of the one player who he had long coveted for Gilas.
"For me, the ideal shooter internationally is Marcio Lassiter," the multi-titled coach said. "He is a great shooter, he is strong, he’s tough and he’s a great defender. That’s his advantage over all of them as he is a much better defender."
How close is Wright to Lassiter at this time, Reyes was asked.
"Pure shooting (wise), Matt has the edge, but the overall impact and value to the team (it's still Lassieter)," Reyes said matter of factly. "But in pure shooting alone, Matt has the edge."
The Gilas coach made it clear defense is something the 6-foot-3 Wright must continue to work on, noting that two of the biggest three-pointers Taipei hit against Gilas were made by men who Wright was supposed to be marking.
Still, Reyes said it's nothing the athletic Wright can't handle.
"He’s willing to learn. He has the tools, he’s athletic and he’s very smart," Reyes said.