There’s no denying that Matthew Wright was one of the stars that shone brightest in the historic 2020 PBA bubble season.
The Fil-Canadian sniper had the finest statistical output of his young career thus far, posting career-bests of 21.1 points on 39.4-percent clip from three-point area, 5.5 assists, and 4.4 rebounds.
And in the bubble, he showed how much he has embraced his role of being the Fuel Masters’ main man. Wright eventually led the young franchise to its second consecutive Philippine Cup semifinal appearance.
And so with all that, the 29-year-old is a heavy favorite to bag the Best Player of the Conference award, the highest individual honors to be given for the season that was compressed due to the pandemic.
“It’s been my fourth year in the PBA, so I’m starting to understand the game better. I’m maturing as a player,” he told The Game on One Sports.
But as impressive as he was, Wright said that whatever success he had was all because of the team, particularly Coach Topex Robinson.
The former Lyceum mentor was promoted as the team’s chief bench tactician back in November after serving in an interim basis in lieu of Louie Alas, whom Phoenix fired last September after three years of service.
“Definitely one of the catalysts of our success is the team. That’s definitely been Coach Topex,” Wright bared.
With Robinson at the helm, carrying with him his “love, serve, care” culture, it wasn’t just Wright who had a season to remember.
Calvin Abueva, reinstated after 16 months of suspension, has also emerged as another BPC candidate. Meanwhile, their frontcourt tandem of Justin Chua and Jason Perkins are in the running for Most Improved Player honors.
Abueva – himself a former BPC who returned to the league last Oct. 27 – was top two in the statistical points race (37.1) with his per-game averages of 15.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.7 steals in 12 outings.
On the other hand, Chua posted norms of 11.7 points on a 34.5-percent clip from deep, on top of 6.7 boards and a league-best 1.6 blocks. Finally, Perkins made 17.8 markers, 8.6 caroms, and 2.4 dimes.
“There’s no coincidence that the four of us had career years, and it was all because of one coaching change,” Wright said. “Coach Topex has done a great job giving us a different perspective of playing basketball and putting us in a position to be successful.
“We definitely worked hard, myself, keeping my body in shape during the quarantine, but I have to give a lot of credit to the team and the new system that we have.”