MATTHEW Wright played down his clutch performance that towed Phoenix to a 103-98 overtime win over Ginebra in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday night.
The Fuel Masters gunner scored four straight points in back-to-back possessions in the second extra session that gave the his team 99-94 lead with still over three minutes left – enough of a cushion to hold off the Gin Kings’ last-ditch effort.
But Wright, who finished with 19 points on 7-of-19 shooting, 10 rebounds, three assists, one steal, and zero turnover in over 44 minutes, insisted there were still lapses he could’ve prevented, especially on defense.
The Gilas Pilipinas mainstay's biggest regret was letting Japeth Aguilar free in the waning seconds of regulation and heaved a sigh of relief when the Ginebra slotman missed a shot from point-blank range.
“There’s a lot of things that I messed up: defensively, I was really lucky that Japeth missed that layup…cause if he made that, the game would’ve been over basically,” Wright said. “I felt like I should’ve closed it out in regulation, but I didn’t.”
Good thing, Wright came through in extra time as he also deflected credit to replacement import Eugene Phelps, Justin Chua, and Jeff Chan for also delivering down the stretch.
“It wasn’t even about me. It was about the guys,” Wright said. “Eugene played well in his debut. He’s not even in shape yet. He just came on and gave us an import-quality game. Justin hit a big shot, Jeff made some big plays, so it was a total team effort.”
The Fuel Masters also shrugged off fatigue as the game dragged on for two extra sessions.
“Everything’s mental,” Wright said. “I just told myself I’m not tired. I told the guys we’re not tired, and after the second overtime, I felt like we got a second wind somehow. I was playing with more energy.”
“And you can see it (fatigue) in Ginebra, which was huffing and puffing, they were really tired, so we just tried to take advantage of that,” he added.
And Wright is glad that the Fuel Masters are showing maturity after being known to crumble when the stakes are highest as evidenced by their overtime loss to NLEX last time.
“These kind of games, they build character,” the Filipino-Canadian shooting guard said. “They either make or break you. The NLEX one got away from us. But every game’s a different chapter.”
“Today we faced a tough opponent, a completely different type of opponent and we were just lucky to execute down the stretch,” he added.