Vanguardia says picking Wright over Van Opstal the right move for Phoenix
Matthew Wright's European experience was key in swaying Phoenix to pick him over Arnold Van Opstal in the draft, says coach Ariel Vanguardia. Jerome Ascano

PHOENIX coach Ariel Vanguardia bared that Matthew Wright’s experience in Europe was the key to sway the Fuel Masters team management in picking his former ward over a big man they direly needed in the PBA special draft among Gilas cadet members.

Vanguardia admitted he had to convince management to go for his former player in Wright, whom he hopes will prove him right in making the Fuel Masters a competitive squad in the coming Philippine Cup.

“I hope he is the right choice. He is an unknown. I have to prove to management to pick him really,” said Vanguardia, who coached Wright when he was with the Malaysia Dragons in the Asean Basketball League.

Vanguardia was finally able to persuade management due to Wright’s experience playing in Europe after having played in France before going to the ABL.

“They really wanted Van Opstal but I told them that Matthew is the only Filipino aside from Pringle that played in Europe that is in the PBA right now,” said Vanguardia.

Despite his experience in Europe, Vanguardia said Wright will still have to make adjustments to the PBA style of play.

“In the ABL, once a week lang ang games. In the PBA, twice a week. ‘Yung mga ganung adjustments. He can also play some point guard so baka mag-point guard siya at times sa team,” he said.

However, Vanguardia admitted they are still after the big man that will complete the Fuel Masters for the coming season.

“Problema na lang namin is big man. ‘Yung point guard nandyan na, shooter nadagdagan. May mga linuluto kami na trade. Sana matuloy. But if not, I’m happy with what we got. Probably we will see a lot of small ball,” Vanguardia said. 

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