MATTHEW Wright was back with his Phoenix family in the PBA Governors Cup following another impressive stint with Gilas Pilipinas.
And to herald his return, the rookie gunner treated the entire Fuel Masters to a sumptuous lunch – boodle-fight style – shortly after the team’s practice at the Upper Deck gym on Tuesday.
“Yes, he’s back and nag-treat nga siya agad,” related coach Ariel Vanguardia of Wright’s first practice with his mother ballclub a day after arriving from Chinese Taipei, where Gilas Pilipinas finished fourth in the 39th Jones Cup basketball invitational which ended Sunday.
“Kaunting bonding lang. After practice lang dun sa dugout namin,” added Vanguardia.
Wright, who has emerged as the best outside sniper in the national team training pool of coach Chot Reyes following his impressive performance in the Jones Cup and the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) Championship before that, is expected to suit up for the Fuel Masters on Wednesday when they gun for a third straight win against the Globalport Batang Pier.
The Fuel Masters were able to hold the fort in their first two games without their top scorer, campleting a 2-0 start to the conference with a thrilling 95-93 squeaker over Alaska on import Eugene Phelp’s game-winning basket at the buzzer.
Phoenix currently shares the top spot with Meralco and NLEX going to its 7 p.m. encounter with the winless Batang Pier at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Vanguardia said the team definitely welcomes the return of the deadly Fil-Canadian wingman especially against a Globalport side that will parade a new import in Murphy Holloway.
“We got to be sharp on court adjustments since Globalport has a new import,” said Vanguardia of Holloway, who will be coming in to take over the job from the ineffective Jabril Trawick.
“And of course, the addition of Sean Anthony, (Bradwyn) Guinto, and (Ryan) Arana makes their team very deep. So our defense should be on point.”
Vanguardia said the return of Wright is definitely a big boost to the Fuel Masters’ campaign as the deadly shooting of the 26-year-old rookie from the outside is expected to stretch the defense of opposing teams.
At the same time, Phoenix is looking to make the most of Wright’s presence.
After proving his value with Gilas, Vanguardia would be very surprised if his prized player is not named to the national team to the Fiba Asia Cup next month in Beirut, Lebanon.
While he’s still around, Vanguardia said Phoenix might as well get the most opportunity out of its star player.
“Hindi siya naka lineup sa SEA Games, so I expect him to be in the Fiba Asia Cup,” said the Phoenix coach.
The FIBA Asia Cup is set August 8 to 20.