PHOENIX coach Ariel Vanguardia feels Matthew Wright might still have an offensive hangover from Gilas Pilipinas, but was more concerned about his prized ward and the rest of Phoenix’s defense in the 122-121 overtime loss to Mahindra in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup matchup on Sunday.
After enjoying freedom to take as many open triples as he can and emerging as the national team’s top long-range threat in the Seaba Championship, Wright picked up from where he left off by firing 13 points in the first half against the Floodbuster.
But the Filipino-Canadian rookie sensation cooled down in the second half where he scored just four points, before going scoreless in the extra session.
Vanguardia, though, credited the Mahindra defense for paying more attention to the Phoenix gunner.
“Alam naman natin na may dumedepensa sa kanya and he was able to find the open man,” Vanguardia said. “Pero yun nga, I think two times he settled for a three rather than attacking then si RJ (Jazu) din hit a three when were up and he had a steal, and he settled for a three.”
“Yung mga ganun, I expect them to mature and be able to handle those situations. Sana ma-handle ni Matt and RJ ng mas maganda pa,” he added.
Wright shot just 6-of-21 from the field for a paltry 28.6 percent, making just two of his 11 attempts from three-point land, although he still completed an all-around performance with nine rebounds, six assists, one steal, and one block, against four turnovers in 46 minutes.
“Pwede (na nasa Gilas mode pa siya) or may hangover pa ng konti,” Vanguardia said. “Pero yun nga, I'm not questioning open threes but yung depensa nila. RJ got beat, Matt got beat, Cyrus (Baguio) got beat, Gelo (Alolino) got beat a lot of times, then also JC (Intal). Yung defense talaga yung naging problema."
Their lack of defense was most evident on Mahindra playmakers LA Revilla and Reden Celda, who both reset their career highs in scoring.
“We let Celda and Revilla just run circles around, even Glenn Khobuntin,” Vanguardia said. “Our guards really had a hard time covering them and when we helped their import got offensive rebounds, yung sama ng depensa namin ngayon sa penetration.”