MATTHEW Wright felt what it was like to be in the shoes – or in this case, wheelchair – of differently abled athletes on Friday night.
After playing 35 minutes in their 94-86 win over Alaska, the Phoenix rookie sensation was gracious enough to take part in a friendly race and shooting competition with members of the Canadian national wheelchair basketball team and their Philippine counterparts, the Pilipinas Warriors.
And Wright cherished the unforgettable experience with the Canadian paralympians, who are in town for a series of clinics.
“It makes you appreciate what you have,” the 26-year-old cager said. “A small event like that makes me a lot more grateful right now to have my legs, still playing basketball.”
“But it makes me respect them more for the fact that these guys have physical disability, and still it doesn't mentally deter them or discourage them from playing the sports that they love,” he added. “It was actually very inspiring and I'm glad I participated in it.”
Against the Aces, Wright missed all but three of his 15 attempts from the field on the way to scoring just seven points, although he added five boards, five assists, and one steal.
“I shot better in the wheelchair than in the game. Maybe I have a future in this,” he said with a smile. “It's the first time that I have done this, so it's a lot harder. Legs are a big deal in shooting so it's definitely a good experience.”
Wright made six of his 10 shots from the foul line in the wheelchair shooting competition, but his opponent still shot better.
“I congratulated the guy that beat me in the free throw competition, I'm still mad that I lost that,” he joked. “He has more experience so kudos to him.”
And Wright was glad to do it with his compatriots.
“I guess it's meant to be,” the Filipino-Canadian wingman said. “Everything happens for a reason and I’m lucky that I’m Filipino and Canadian, I’m proud of being both. Like I said before, anything that I can represent Canada and Philippines at the same time, I will gladly do.”