Matthew Wright is ready to take the leap to PBA superstardom.
After a stellar showing last season where he averaged 17.82 points, 5 rebounds, and 4.61 assists for the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters, the 27-year-old Filipino-Canadian marksman promised an even better version of himself in 2019.
“I’m gonna have a big year this year, I really feel that. I’ve been working my ass off. This is my third year in the PBA now, and I know how things work,” Wright bared to FOX PH during the first ever PBA Media Day in Solaire Hotel and Casino on Thursday.
“I know the game style, and I feel like my teammates and my opponents they now have the respect for me. Hopefully I can continue what I’m doing, but in a more efficient rate. Just be a more savy veteran and leader out there, I’m trying to be more of a leader than just a player. Just working at my intangibles and things that have no stats for. Like communicating with my teammates better, I’m just working at the little things in basketball,” he added.
After a lackluster showing in the first two conferences last year, Phoenix enjoyed a rebirth in the Governors’ Cup with the arrival of Calvin Abueva. The national team stalwarts quickly developed a lethal one-two punch combination for coach Louie Alas, and secured the second seed in the eliminations. But inexperience got the better of the lively bunch, as they saw their twice-to-beat advantage crumble at the hands of the Meralco Bolts. Although devastated by the team’s early playoff exit, Wright added that his team picked up valuable lessons from the setback.
“We learned that we’re not good enough yet (last conference). It’s plain and simple. The truth hurts that we weren’t prepared even though we had a great record. Playoffs is a completely different beast and Meralco showed that they have more playoff experience than us and more poise down the stretch,” he said.
“We just have to get better as a team. These are the kinds of situations that turn good teams to great teams. You have to go through bad losses in order for you to change what you think you’re doing. Cause what we thought was right and was good enough, wasn’t. We have to completely go back to the drawing board and revamped our roster — which we did. Revamp our style of play, which we are. You’re going to see a much different Pulse this year.”
The Fuel Masters will have a chance to avenge that loss against the Bolts in their season opener on January 16 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We just had a tune-up game against Ginebra. We showed some positive things, but we still have a lot of things to work on. We have about a week left until our first game with Meralco, and we’re familiar with them. We still have that taste in our mouth from that last defeat,” Wright admitted. “We’re gonna be ready for that, our rookies came in and worked hard and they learned fast. We’re going to be a very competitive bunch once again this conference.”
The two-time PBA All-Star also briefly touched upon the predicament of Team Pilipinas, who will be up for a daunting task of sweeping their next two games against Qatar and Kazakhstan, to have a shot of advancing in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
“It’s tough, but it’s possible. We know that with all good things, we must work hard for them. This is isn’t the easiest path for us to get it, but we still have a path,” he shared.
“All we have to do is to win the next two games. That’s all we’re thinking in our head and we just have to simplify things. We can’t think too much and psych ourselves out or over analyze it and just win back-to-back games.”