<
>

Matthew Wright open to another Gilas call-up

Matthew Wright no longer wants to dwell on the missed opportunity of playing for Gilas Pilipinas in the recently-concluded FIBA World Cup.

Wright notably suffered a right peroneal tendon sprain that left him out of the final week of the national team's practice in August and, eventually, out of the final 12-man lineup.

"I have nothing to say, man. It was bad timing. I obviously wish I was out there. I know I could have helped the team, but there's nothing really left to say," he said.

A 32-percent shooter across nine games in the World Cup qualifiers, Wright's sniping might have alleviated some of the shooting woes by the Philippines, which only connected on 25.2 percent of its shots from downtown (31st out of 32 teams).

The sweet-shooting guard, however, said that the dismal campaign could serve as a lesson for all parties involved in the planning for the next edition of the basketball conclave.

"It's over now and hopefully that not only as a country, but just as a basketball organization, governing body, we can figure out ways to better send or better prepare and facilitate the talent that we have so that the next World Cup can be more successful than it was this time," Wright said.

Wright also said he'll readily make himself available for any future tournaments Gilas calls him up for, but he made it a point to say that he has his eyes on the Phoenix Fuel Masters' upcoming run in the PBA Governors' Cup. "If I get a call from Gilas, I'll never say no. My door's always open for that, for that team. But right now, I'm focusing on Phoenix Fuel Masters and the 6'5 and under conference," he explained.

The 28-year-old guard said he's approaching full health with less than a week before the conference opener. He also played lengthy minutes in two of the Fuel Masters' tune-up games, one of which was in their 105-97 win over Jeonju KCC Egis last Thursday.

"We were struggling in the first three, but we had a lot of factors, not everybody played, some injuries. So we're just trying to get our legs beneath us," he said as Phoenix grabbed its first practice win of the break. "We're just trying to get that team chemistry, especially with Eugene (Phelps) back. But we just wanted to get emphasis on physicality, be physical today so we can play that same brand of basketball this conference."

Phoenix wants to build on this momentum heading into their first game of the season-ending conference against NLEX on September 21.

"We're very confident this conference," he said. "We knew that last conference was a little bit of a skid for us. We had a lot of distractions off the court as well, but we're a lot more focused now and we have."

Rebounding from a down conference in the Commissioner's Cup, where they finished 10th after posting a franchise-best 9-2 record to start the 2019 season, will be a key goal, but the team will be looking to do it without the suspended Calvin Abueva on board.

Wright, however, is optimistic that the rest of the Fuel Masters will be able to pick up the slack.

"Everybody on our team has to step up now. We have the guys to do that. We have the personnel who can match the same kind of intensity that Calvin brings, but everyone's gonna have to step up in the absence of him," Wright said.

"There's no more surprise, like we had that lingering over our head like we don't know if Calvin's coming back or not. Now we know that, you know, we might as well just chalk on without him. So everybody's accepted that and now we can move forward and everyone expect Phoenix basketball," he closed.