Though he’s still a sophomore in the PBA, Matthew Wright has built an identity as one reliable shooter.
That was on display on Sunday, as his Phoenix Fuel Masters took on the Blackwater Elite. When the latter knocked within four, Wright sank a contested long jumper to widen his side’s lead, 95-89, with 41 seconds left.
Wright finished the game with 23 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, and his efforts led to Phoenix’s 97-91 victory. The Fuel Masters will now be heading to the 2018 Governors’ Cup quarters as the two-seed and with the win-once edge.
“It’s satisfying knowing that we’re a young team, you know, like the future is bright for Phoenix.
“So, we always believe it and now I’m glad that we can finally show everybody, show the country that we are a contender,” Wright said.
But for a change, what earned Wright praises was his defense on Elite’s all-around point guard Nard Pinto.
Pinto was feeling it in the first half as he made all four his baskets en route to eight points. But when Wright defended him, Pinto found it hard to sustain his rhythm from the first 24 minutes, and only went 3-of-6 come the second half.
“I have to give credit to Matt din kasi he volunteered to pressure Pinto noong second half. I know wala sa stats yun pero I told Matt na for me, parang plus 20 points na yan,” said Fuel Masters head coach Louie Alas.
“Si Pinto ang daming shinoot nung first half eh, noong second half, siguro hindi niya na nagawa [yung katulad] ng first half. It’s all about defense kanina.”
For the Filipino-Canadian guard, he simply wanted to be more of a stopper this time around, believing that he could get the job done especially against Pinto, who – despite having a wide-bodied frame – is inches shorter than him.
“Pinto is a great point guard and he’s been shooting the lights out this conference. I think he’s been shooting about 60 percent. And he hit a couple of shots in this game, and he’s been facilitating really well,” he said.
“So I just thought that maybe I’ll just try and be the one to take the initiative to put pressure on him and use my length and size to make him uncomfortable and disrupt passes coz he’s getting into the lane too easily, feeding everybody,” he added.
“That is why we were down in the first half so I just took it upon myself to try to be a stopper.”
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