PHOENIX coach Ariel Vanguardia doesn’t see rookie Matthew Wright missing out on his Gilas Pilipinas duties despite recently undergoing minor surgery to remove bone spurs in his ankle.
The freshman forward is currently undergoing rehab following the operation that will kept him out of action for four to six weeks.
But Vanguardia expects the 26-year-old Wright to recover in time to join the national team as it prepares for the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) Championship to be held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum from May 12-18.
“I think he can make it on time,” said the Phoenix mentor of the Fil-Canadian player, who he handled with the KL Westports Malaysia Dragons in the Asean Basketball League (ABL
Under the agreement reached by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and the PBA, national team cadets such as Wright will be pulled out of their respective mother ballclubs two months before the tournament proper, which in this case, should be March 12.
Vanguardia doesn’t see any major conflict with it.
“Probably, he will miss a few weeks of practice in March, but will be okay by April,” he assured.
The Phoenix mentor said the injury is similar to the one fellow Phoenix player JC Intal had during the Governors Cup. He added Wright has been nursing the injury since his playing days with the Malaysia Dragons in the ABL.
“He got it sa ABL Finals namin last year,” Vanguardia disclosed. “He played with an ankle sprain kaya nagka-bone spurs. Kaya nagpa-clean na rin siya habang conference break.”
The 6-foot-4 Wright is among the young, outside gunners coach Chot Reyes will be needing as Gilas Pilipinas 5.0 begins its campaign of bagging a berth in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, whose year-long, series of qualifiers kick off later this year.
Only in his first conference, Wright already showed his value with the Fuel Masters after leading the team to a playoffs appearance in the ongoing Philippine Cup, where he emerged as the top scorer for Phoenix with an average of 18.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists.
A product of St. Bonaventure, Wright has already overtaken the talented Mac Belo of Blackwater in the race for the Rookie of the Year award.
The Phoenix rookie has accumulated 30.5 statistical points at the end of the semifinals to take the no. 1 spot from the 6-foot-4 Belo, who fell at second place with 27.7 SPs (14.3 ppg., 7.3 rpg., 1.5 apg, 1.4bpg).
Star Hotshots’ Jio Jalalon is currently at third place with 21.2 SPs (9.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.8 apg), followed by Roger Pogoy of TnT Katropa with 20.5 SPs (9.4 ppg., 4.5 rpg., and 1.3apg), and Barangay Ginebra’s Kevin Ferrer with 16.1 SPs (6.5 ppg., and 3.5 rpg).