MATTHEW Wright admitted his frustration over Phoenix Super LPG losing key players one after the other in a season that came to a close on Friday with a quarterfinal defeat to Magnolia in the PBA 46th Season Governors’ Cup.
Speaking to reporters after their lopsided 127-88 defeat to Magnolia at the Big Dome, Wright said it was difficult to see the players who made the Fuel Masters competitive over the past years leave through trades and free agent signings.
The biggest loss was Calvin Abueva, who was traded to Magnolia prior to the 2021 season. Vic Manuel was acquired from Alaska shortly thereafter to make up for the Abueva trade, but he was shipped eventually to NorthPort prior to the Governors’ Cup.
Phoenix then lost Chris Banchero to free agency before giving up Justin Chua in a trade to NLEX midway through the reinforced conference.
Despite his frustrations, Wright is keeping an open mind as he begins contract negotiations with the Fuel Masters next week. He has indicated that staying is an option but is also not discounting a move overseas.
Phoenix's plans moving forward will weigh on Wright's decision after what he described as a 'traumatic season' that he said felt as if Phoenix lost an entire All-Star team.
“We had a very traumatic season in terms of losing personnel,” said Wright. “We lost Calvin, we lost Vic, we lost CB (Chris Banchero), we lost Justin. That’s an All-Star team right there. But we lost [them]. It vanished.”
“Everyday we came to practice, one of them is gone, the next day, CB is gone. The next day Justin is gone. It’s like, it’s crazy,” said Wright.
Wright said it was hard to see the guys go especially since he was part of Phoenix since being drafted by the Dennis Uy-owned franchise since 2016.
“It is really frustrating because I’ve been in Phoenix for six years. I was on Phoenix when we are nothing. We were so bad. And we just kept on building, building, and building and we got to a point where I thought that we were going to be the next team that comes up."
Wright said despite the moves, he tried to keep a positive attitude especially with a couple of players stepping up during the conference even as the team ended up with the last quarterfinal berth in the Governors’ Cup with a 6-5 win-loss record.
“And then we just traded everybody. It’s very hard to stay focused and to be motivated and it’s taxing especially on me and Perk (Jason Perkins). Taxing everyday to keep this guys afloat and just hope that somebody comes and step up.
"Like this conference, RJ (Jazul) stepped up big time. We saw flashes of Nick Demusis having promise… I’m trying to stay as positive as I can. That’s the takeaway that I got this conference," the Fil-Canadian added.
Wright is also shifting his focus to the 31st Southeast Asian Games where he is part of the 16-man pool of Gilas Pilipinas under coach Chot Reyes.
“Hopefully, we can fix things up and I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m just excited for the SEA Games, to finally be with the guys, be back with coach Chot, June Mar, [and the rest]. We are going to come back with a gold medal,” said Wright.
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