MATTHEW Wright insisted Gilas Pilipinas wasn’t trying to make a statement on Wednesday night with its ability to dominate an Asean neighbor even without a naturalized player.
Despite Andray Blatche resting due to a minor hamstring injury, the Filipino dribblers still did more than enough to cruise past Vietnam, 107-52, and sustain their dominant run in the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) Championship.
Wright, who showed the way for Gilas with 19 points in just 15 minutes, insisted they’re simply trying to make improvements ahead of the bigger battles.
“I don't think it's overkill,” Wright said. “We're gonna be playing teams that are much better than these teams and they're not gonna feel bad for us. They're not gonna care who we are, especially if we play the better Asian teams, the European teams.”
“It's eat or be eaten, and right now we're eating,” he added. “You never know who you're going to play, if we played Team USA are we going to say that that's overkill? We can't really have that mentality, we just have our team, and we're just trying to get better every game.”
The 55-point rout against the Vietnamese did prove they remain the kings of Asean basketball even with an all-local lineup.
“I guess we did show that we don't need to rely on a naturalized player, that we can still dominate a tournament with just our locals,” Wright said. “But Dray's gonna be back tomorrow so we can't really dwell on that.”
Wright proved to be one of Gilas new gems as he knocked down five triples on the way to scoring the game-high output. But he deflected credit to playmakers Terrence Romeo and Jayson Castro for setting him up.
“Those guys make my job easier, Terrence and Jayson especially today,” Wright said. “They found me, they hit me in stride, they hit me in momentum. Having great passes like that makes my job easier, so I can't take all credit. Those guys definitely put me in good positions.”
And Wright needs all the three-pointers he can get on Thursday as he expects a battle against Indonesia.
“It's gonna be a dogfight,” Wright said. “I know Jamarr Johnson is gonna be ready to play. He's gonna definitely try to beat us with his motor but I feel like we've been hitting our stride lately, everybody has confindence on the team.”
“It's not gonna be a walk in the park tomorrow that's for sure,” he added. “But they gotta guard us, too.”