Matthew Wright will still be wearing teal blue next month.
But it won’t be with PBA’s Phoenix Super LPG as he signed a two-year deal with B.League’s Kyoto.
And for the 31-year-old Filipino-Canadian sniper, moving out of his comfort zone is what he needs at this stage of his career.
“I think it’s going to be a great challenge because I feel like I was getting a little too comfortable in the Philippines being there for six years,” said Wright, who started his pro career with ABL team Westsports Malaysia back in 2015.
“We didn’t win a lot of games in Phoenix and it was very frustrating and I felt like I needed a change in scenery and just new challenges for myself.”
Back in 2016, Wright was drafted by the Fuel Masters in the Gilas round.
During his six-year stay with Phoenix, Wright almost reached the Finals twice. However, constant changes in the Fuel Masters’ roster composition made it hard to find momentum for them.
Throughout those six years, it was only Wright who was the constant.
Now, Wright is looking for stability in Japan.
“I’m always constantly trying to become a better basketball player. I think that the main goal is to always strive for improvement and developing your game and I felt like joining Kyoto would be the best fit for me.”
With the Hannaryz, he will get to reunite with someone who is familiar with him.
Kyoto recently tapped former Canada youth basketball head coach Roy Rana.
“I’ve known Matthew since he was like 15 years old and was a young high school player and when I was a younger high school coach in Toronto,” said Rana, who previously coached Eastern Commerce Collegiate Institute when Wright was still with Martingrove Collegiate Institute.
“I got a chance to see his career really begin to blossom, where he was really not very well known and really started to develop a little bit later in his high school career.”
Despite being an Asian import, Wright will have a huge responsibility on his shoulders as Rana wants him to be one of the team’s leaders.
“He’s got incredible toughness. People don’t really understand that he’s had to go through a lot in his life, to be able to become the man that he’s become and become the player that he’s become.
“It’s something that I think is incredible and just to be part of that and to have witnessed that,” said Rana.
Kyoto though was one of the bottom teams during the 2021-22 B.League season, putting up a paltry 14-43 slate for 19th place.
But going to rebuilding teams is the story of Wright’s life.
“I’ve always been on the team that wasn’t necessarily the best team. I went to a good, decent high school and even in college I didn’t go to the biggest college in terms of winning and that kind of pedigree,” said Wright, a product of St. Bonaventure.
“But I feel like that’s been the trend in my career, is going to a team that doesn’t have the most expectations and then eventually with the group of guys that we have, we work hard and we have that underdog mindset, and eventually we do become a good team. So hopefully, with this Kyoto team, the same would happen.”