Matthew Wright eager to shake off suspension 'stigma'
MANILA, Philippines – It's all about putting the past behind now for Matthew Wright in his Gilas Pilipinas return in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Wright, who served a one-game suspension from FIBA for his role in the infamous Philippines-Australia brawl last July 2, is adamant to move forward from the incident as he suits up for the Nationals against Qatar.
"Me and Japeth (Aguilar), we're eager to just get this, to shake this suspension, this lingering, you know, stigma out of the way so that we can just focus on what's important and that’s basketball," Wright told reporters.
The brawl forced Gilas to completely overhaul its lineup for the fourth window of the Qualifiers with 10 of its original players suspended.
Fortunately for the Phoenix star, he and Aguilar received the least punishment and were immediately slotted back in the lineup against the Qataris.
"There could have been a lot of other people who were worthy of taking my spot. So just to be called up again to play Qatar was already an honor," Wright added.
"But for me to just be able to get the suspension out the way and to be able to get back to just playing basketball, it's exciting for me and I'm more than prepared."
Known for his outside sniping and scoring, Wright will be a welcome addition after Team Pilipinas went for a paltry 5-of-28 clip from long range in its 73-81 road loss to Iran on Thursday, September 13.
He will also form an interesting combo with fellow sharpshooter Marcio Lassiter, which is something that excites Wright.
Matthew Wright, who returns to national team duty after a one-game suspension from FIBA, talks about teaming up with fellow sharpshooter Marcio Lassiter. #FIBAWC #FIBAWCQ | @dioquinodelfin pic.twitter.com/Q9tby3ZcVW
Matthew Wright, who returns to national team duty after a one-game suspension from FIBA, talks about teaming up with fellow sharpshooter Marcio Lassiter. #FIBAWC #FIBAWCQ | @dioquinodelfin pic.twitter.com/Q9tby3ZcVW— Rappler Sports (@RapplerSports) September 16, 2018
"Hopefully I'll be able to space the floor out [and] do my job, which is to attack off the pick and roll," he said. "[M]y job is to just be able to knock down shots and to create for others and to space the floor out for the big men."
Gilas will square off with Qatar at the Araneta Coliseum on Monday, September 17, at 7:30 pm. – Rappler.com