MATTHEW Wright is set to leave the country on Sunday for his wedding, which will make him miss the final elimination round game of the Fuel Masters against Barangay Ginebra on Thursday.
And with contract set to expire at the end of next month and Phoenix’s chances of advancing to the quarterfinals still dim, Wright may have played his final game with the Fuel Masters on Saturday.
Matthew Wright hints at Phoenix farewell
Picked by Phoenix in the special draft in 2016, Wright admitted that the likelihood of him staying with the only team he had played for in his PBA career is dim.
One thing is for sure, though: he is grateful to the Phoenix and the PBA for all the opportunities that he gained during his stay, including the chance to fight for a championship while playing for a competitive team.
“I’m leaning towards looking at other options,” said Wright on Saturday after Phoenix scored an 89-66 win over Converge.
“I don’t want to say final. That’s such a final word. I don’t want to close the door on anything. Could it be? Maybe. Do I have other options? I do. Am I entertaining them? Yes I am. But something is for sure, I love the PBA. It’s a great league. I have a lot of memories here. It’s really a good run and I met a lot of great people, a lot of great coaches.”
Ever since the offseason, Wright has been linked to a possible move to the Japan B.League although he made it clear prior to the start of the conference that his focus is on his stint with Phoenix Super LPG in the Philippine Cup.
In possibly his final PBA game with Phoenix, Wright topscored for Phoenix with 15 points while also adding eight points, four assists, and three steals. The Fuel Masters though are still fighting for their playoff lives despite the win.
“I’m just sad that we didn’t play as well as we want us to play this conference. I know mathematically, we are pretty much eliminated. I guess there is still a chance. But I wish we could have won a few more games. There were a couple of games that we were borderline and that would have been crucial for our playoff push. It just didn’t happened. It was a great run and it was a good run for this conference at least for Phoenix. At least, we got a win today. I can’t really complain and get mad at it. We won today so I’m happy.
With his conference with the Fuel Masters about to draw to a close, the 31-year-old Wright looked back at his stay with Phoenix and PBA with fondness. He added that thinking about leaving the team and the league seems so difficult.
“But it was a great journey. If this is my last game, then it’s may last game. But if not, I always want to come back here. At the end of the day, I do look at the mirror and I do see a Filipino. The national team and all those things are a huge part of me. It’s very hard for me to say that I’m leaving. It’s difficult for me to try to think about that or admit that.”
Wright said playing in the PBA remains an option, but with a different team.
“Yes, of course, that’s still an option,” said Wright, referring to playing in the PBA. “Teams are interested. I just feel like I need something new and a new change of scenery from Phoenix. No disrespect whatsoever to the organization. It’s been a great organization. Class act since I got to the league. It’s been a great run, great people from management all the way down to the ball boys. I’m really grateful that Phoenix drafted me seven years ago.”
But at this point of his career, Wright said he wants a shot at a title, while also being able to create a legacy to the Filipino fans, and continuing to make an impact on the younger generation of ballers in the country.
“I think at this juncture of my career, it’s all about building my legacy and I want to win. I feel like were right there with Phoenix. We were right on the brink. But things happen out of our control and that’s how it goes with some teams and certain leagues. You have window of opportunity where you can be successful. We had our chances. We had our shots,” said Wright.
“But I’m trying not to look at success with wins, losses, and championships. I’m trying to think of success as how many people I’ve affected positively, how many kinds want to play like me or how many people I can get in front of the TV screens, how many families can I get to watch a live game, those are the things that are hard to quantify but it means way more than any Mythical, MVP, or championship trophies. It’s the influences and the impact that you leave with the people you care about or people that you don’t even know.
“I get a lot of messages from kids asking me for advice on their jumpers or things that they can work on. And I love it. Because I was that kid once upon a time as well. If I had social media back then, I’d probably messaged Steph Curry. But I didn’t. But I want to be a role model. I just want to be a role model that I wanted to have growing up. And I’m glad that Phoenix and the PBA gave me an opportunity to do that,” said Wright.
But his playing career will take a back seat for the meantime as he prepares for his wedding on July 24. Wright said he is excited for that life event that has been pushed back several times because of the pandemic and his playing commitments including the Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi.
“I guess once in a while, there’s an event that is a little bit important than basketball and that’s coming from me so that says a lot. Nothing is more important than the game except for a few things and I guess getting married is one of them.”
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