MATTHEW Wright remained optimistic about the future of Phoenix, saying the heartbreak loss to Meralco will only help build the character of the Fuel Masters moving forward.
A dream campaign of the Fuel Masters in the Governors’ Cup came to a premature end on Friday as the second-seeded and twice-to-beat squad lost to the seventh-ranked Bolts in overtime, 108-103.
Wright, though, said such defeats will only make the team stronger in the future, mentioning NBA teams such as the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers who had to go through a rough patch before succeeding.
“I was telling the guys in the locker room that these are the kind of losses that build character,” said Wright. “We are not going to let this loss unravel us.”
“The Bulls and the Lakers, they were losing games. The Bulls were losing to the Pistons like this before they won championships. The Lakers were losing to teams before the three-peat. We feel that we are in a position where we are going to be the better team in the next couple of years,” Wright said.
Wright said Phoenix just lost to a more poised team in Meralco, which also showed the reason why they reached the finals of the Governors’ Cup for two successive times with Allen Durham at the helm.
“Meralco is a veteran team. They showed better poise toward the endgame. They did what teams like that do to make it to the semifinals. This is usually their conference with Allen Durham. But we just have to be more mentally tough,” said Wright.
Wright finished with 20 points and six assists for the Fuel Masters in the rubber match with the Gilas standout also hitting two triples in a losing cause.
Wright feels it's only a matter of time before the Fuel Masters can get over the hump with the impressive pieces the team has.
“We have to stick together and take this loss collectively and in a positive mind. We have to train our minds to think of the good in the scenario. I’m proud of the guys. We fought hard. We just came up short to a good team.
“With Jason (Perkins), you have a glimpse of what Jason can do, with Calvin (Abueva), we have a couple of draft picks in the first round so we are trying to expand aggressively.
"We are not trying to be like those bottom-dweller teams. We are aiming for the top. It’s exciting and country should be excited that there is going to be another elite team in the next couple of conferences. I truly believe that,” said Wright.