EVEN for just a brief moment, Ariel Vanguardia got reunited in the same playing venue with the player he considered a 'son.'
Vanguardia savored seeing and playing against former ward Matthew Wright during the tune-up game between Team Pilipinas and IECO Green Warriors Sunday at the Meralco gym.
It's no secret Vanguardia and Wright had a close player-coach relationship dating back to their days with the KL Westports Dragon, where they won an ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) championship together.
And when Wright entered the PBA draft two years ago, it was Vanguardia who convinced Phoenix management to get the services of the 27-year-old Fil-Canadian.
After the two parted ways when Vanguardia left the Fuel Masters, it was only during the game between the national team and the Green Warriors that the two got the chance to meet each other again.
"I miss Matt," said Vanguardia as Wright gave him a warm hug after the nationals beat the Green Warriors, 99-82.
The IECO mentor, whose team will be seeing action in the Terrific 12 Asia League in Macau, was happy at the way his former player has improved by leap and bounds in just his second year as a pro.
He also believes Wright's partnership with Marcio Lassiter is a deadly wing combination for Team Pilipinas.
"He's more matured now and is no longer forcing his shots," noted Vanguardia.
"I love seeing him with Marcio (on the wings)," said Vanguardia.
Before parting ways, Vanguardia handed out Wright's championship ring when they won the ABL title with the Dragons.
Wright reciprocated the gesture, coming back and handing out to Vanguardia a brand new playing sneakers.
"We had a great time while with KL and Phoenix," said Vanguardia. "Anak ko yan."