PHOENIX has lost its last two outings in the PBA Governors Cup against Globalport and NLEX. And it just so happened that both games had top gunner Matthew Wright back in the Fuel Masters’ active roster following his stint with Gilas Pilipinas.
Coach Ariel Vanguardia was quick to dismiss any insinuation, though, saying there was no one really to blame for the team’s 95-91 loss to the Road Warriors on Sunday but themselves.
“Coincidence lang yun. We’re not blaming anyone. We win as a team, we lose as a team,” said Vanguardia just outside the dugout of the Fuel Masters at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Phoenix got off to a rousing start in the season-ending meet by winning its first two games without Wright, its prized rookie who suited up for the national team in the recent 39th Jones Cup in Chinese Taipei.
But since returning, Wright hasn’t won a game with Phoenix, including one against the Road Warriors in which Wright fired 17 points and went 3-of-6 from three-point range.
“I don’t know about it,” was Wright’s curt reply when asked what happened in the two losses that he was in a Phoenix uniform.
But Vanguardia said everybody should be held accountable for the losses, especially in the NLEX game, where the Fuel Masters failed to protect a 78-68 lead early in the payoff period.
“We should be able to close out games,” he said. “We know we got outworked especially during that fourth quarter.”
“We didn’t have the breaks today. We couldn’t make shots in the fourth quarter and we couldn’t make stops.”
Phoenix returns to the court on August 6 against Blackwater, a game Wright is certain to miss as he will be playing for Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba Asia Cup in Beirut, Lebanon.
The national team leaves for the Middle East on August 5.