ADELAIDE 36ers head coach Joey Wright would love for his side to imbibe the fondness he has for Philippine basketball.
And he has every reason to, with the American mentor previously suiting up as a reinforcement for Presto Ice Cream in the third conference of the 1992 PBA season.
"I'm really always excited about coming back here," said Wright, who is in town for the two-game exhibition series between Adelaide and the Gilas Pilipinas Mens national team this weekend.
"Filipinos have been playing basketball here for 40 years. They've been playing great basketball, high passionate basketball, and I didn't want one incident to be held in their head."
Wright admitted that the 36ers accepting the invite for these friendlies were initially met with defiance, especially a little over a year removed from the now-infamous brawl between the two nations' national teams back in the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers.
But for him, this is a perfect chance for both countries to mend fences and bury the hatchet as they aim to make more pleasant memories in these exhibitions.
"Some of the fans in Australia think that one incident defines what Filipino basketball is, and it's not." he said.
"We wanted to come back here and play and show people that it was just one incident and we can come back here and play and we'll be ok, we'll be treated well, and we have been treated exceptionally. Nothing like that will happen, so it's just one incident and we want to let it go."
Though he has been away from the Philippines for a little less than three decades now, Wright shared that he still keeps tabs with the basketball happenings in the Philippines.
Truth be told, this series was made possible by a former NBL stud as well, with TNT active consultant Mark Dickel helping in making the series come to fruition.
And as expected, old memories came rushing back to Wright, who even recounted his PBA debut where he and teammate Allan Caidic staged a scoring party for Presto in a 139-135 overtime victory over San Miguel.
"The first game I had when I arrived. I played with Allan Caidic and I could not believe how well a shooter he was," he reminisced of his first game in a Kings jersey. "I had 52 (points) and he had 47, and it was a lot of fun. He's probably the best shooter I've ever played with."
Wright certainly had a lot of fun in his time in the country, and he'd love for his players to do the same.
He even challenged his wards to eat the famous balut in their week-long stay here.
"They try that, I'll give them $100," Wright said with a grin.