Matthew Wright believes that Phoenix Super LPG is peaking at the right time as the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup eliminations approach its homestretch.
The Fil-Canadian star has grown even more confident with his team after the Fuel Masters picked up their second win in a row by humiliating Blackwater, 114-92, Saturday evening at the DHVSU Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
“I think that we’re slowly picking up momentum,” offered the five-year pro after the match.
“We have won three out of four games so far since the restart.”
It was, indeed, their third win in the four matches they’ve had since the tilt returned following a weeks-long pause. Phoenix opened the resumption with a 78-77 win over Rain or Shine, before bowing to NLEX via wide margin.
Quick, though, was their response after that loss to the Road Warriors, bouncing back with a 96-84 conquest of the then-streaking Terrafirma before Saturday’s W, where they handed the Bossing their 17th straight defeat.
The Fuel Masters’ drubbing of Blackwater marked the first time that they strung victories together this conference. And it is quite an indication of how the team has progressed, given the challenges they’ve had this year.
Aside from the uncertainties brought about by the pandemic, Phoenix also entered the season with many new faces, far from the same team that made a semifinal run in last season’s Philippine Cup bubble in Clark.
Their elimination round campaign has become different as well. From collecting eight wins against just three losses last year that led to a top two finish, they are presently at eighth in the standings with a 4-5 card.
“We don’t really like talking about the last bubble anymore. That was a year ago and we’re a completely different team now. We have five new players. We have rookies. We have free agents. We made some trades.
“So we have a different team, and we have a different mindset,” he said. “We have a different game plan. This conference has been a challenge but I’m sure there are other guys who are like me on the team that enjoy challenges.”
From the looks of it, Wright and Co. have embraced challenges altogether, thus the firm belief of the 30-year-old that they can all rise from it.
“I’m starting to see our team developing an identity offensively and defensively,” said the former Gilas Pilipinas stalwart. “So I think we’re moving on the right track, and that’s all I could really hope for.”
Wright himself has also become confident with himself. After shooting a total of 10-of-46 from the field in their first three games, he went 5-of-9 versus Blackwater, including 4-of-8 from deep for 16 points.
“I’m starting to finally find my touch in this gym,” he said of his outing. “It took me a while but I felt like today, I finally broke that barrier.”
With how everything has been turning out so far for him and Phoenix, Wright has also become so certain that the Fuel Masters will be able to hurdle their next great tests that await them next week.
Phoenix has two games left in the eliminations, and the teams that they have yet to face are reigning champs Ginebra and San Miguel Beer.
“I enjoy my back against the wall, because when the pressure is on, that’s when you really see who you are as a person and you really see what you’re made of,” said the one-time Mythical Team member.
“These next two games against two giants, that could be huge, but at the end of the day it’s just basketball. And they gotta guard us too. As good as those teams are, they gotta guard us too,” he added.
“Two big games coming up against Ginebra and San Miguel, two very winnable games and we’re very confident against those teams.”