June 24, 2017, 3:04 am
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Matthew turning out to be the (W)right man

MATTHEW Wright is fast turning out to be the man Gilas Pilipinas is looking for to boost its outside shooting.

The 6-foot-2 wingman waxed hot and scored a game-high 19 points spiked by five triples in the Nationals’ 107-52 ripping of Vietnam last Wednesday night, Gilas’ fifth straight win in the South East Asia Basketball Association championship at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Ranged against the Vietnamese zone defense, Wright said he played his role as one of Gilas’ outside snipers.

“My teammates found me and I hit some open shots. They (Vietnam) played zone defense and that’s how you beat a zone, you make (outside) shots,” Wright said.

Wright, 26, gave credit to Gilas playmakers Jayson Castro and Terrence Romeo for his sizzling performance.

“Those guys make my job easier. Terrence and Jayson, they found me. Having great passes like that makes my job easier, so I can’t take all the credit,” Wright said. “Those guys definitely put me in good positions.”

With naturalized player Andray Blatche sitting out the game due to a mild hamstring injury, Wright stepped up and said Gilas has what it takes even without a naturalized player.

“I guess we did show that we don’t need to rely on a naturalized player and we’ll still dominate the tournament with just our locals,” he said.

Gilas coach Chot Reyes lauded Wright for playing his role for the squad bidding to win its eight title overall in the SEABA joust. He challenged Wright and another marksman, Allein Maliksi, to be consistent against Indonesia in a game being played at press time last night.

“We all know what Matthew and Allein can do. That’s their role in this team. The key now for them is consistency,” Reyes said. “Can they shoot the same way tomorrow when there are much greater stakes, when there’s a much tougher and much bigger opponent?”

At the rate Gilas is playing, Wright is convinced the team will not be taken lightly if it plays Asian and European teams in future international tourneys.

“We’re gonna be playing teams that are much better than these teams, and they’re not gonna feel bad for us,” Wright explained. “They’re not gonna care who we are, especially if we play the better Asian teams, European teams.”

Wright said Gilas was not thinking of the “overkill” claims raised by some quarters and said the team is bent on improving as one cohesive unit.

“It’s eat or be eaten. Right now, we’re eating,” Wright said. “You never know who you’re going to play. If we played Team USA, are we going to say that that’s overkill?” he said.

“We can’t really have that mentality, we just have our team, and we’re just trying to get better every game.”
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