MANILA, Philippines – With his much-awaited Japan B. League debut for the Kyoto Hannaryz just around the corner, former PBA star and Gilas Pilipinas sharpshooting guard Matthew Wright is ready to welcome new challenges as he enters a whole new environment for the first time in six years.
The Filipino-Canadian Wright expressed his excitement for the upcoming 2022-2023 B. League season, saying he needed a “change in scenery” after a six-year stint in the PBA with the Phoenix Fuel Masters.
“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 in an introductory press conference on Thursday, September 22.
“We didn’t win a lot of games in Phoenix and it was very frustrating. I felt like I needed a change in scenery and just new challenges for myself.”
“I’m always constantly trying to become a better basketball player and I think the main goal is to always strive for improvement and developing your game. I felt like joining Kyoto would be the best fit for me,” he added.
Wright, a one-time PBA Mythical First Team member and a two-time All-Star Game MVP, averaged 15.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 1.6 steals in his final conference for the Fuel Masters in the 2022 Philippine Cup, where they finished at 11th place with a 3-8 slate.
Known for his high-scoring during his run in the PBA, Wright, who led Phoenix to multiple playoff appearances and two semifinals series, now has his sights on becoming more of a facilitator for Kyoto, which is looking to improve from its 14-43 record last season.
“I think for us to be successful in this team, I’m going to take more of an approach as a playmaker,” said Wright.
“I think we have much-better imports and we have a system that will allow me to still have freedom to play my game, but I think the best way for us to win in Kyoto is for me to play a lot more point guard this year.”
“That’s nothing that I’m not familiar with, I’ve played point guard before in college so it’s going to be a challenge and it’s more exciting,” he continued.
At 31 years old, Wright is also excited to take on the veteran role for the young Hannaryz squad under Canadian head coach Roy Rana and share his knowledge and experiences to his young Japanese teammates, whom he lauded for their tremendous work ethic.
“I was actually shocked that I was the oldest in the team. I don’t think I have ever been in that situation before,” said Wright.
“That goes to show how young we are, how much room we have to grow, and how much potential we have.”
“The best thing that I can do is to just offer experiences that I’ve had. Sometimes with young players, they let their emotions get the best of them so I think it’s my job to keep them calm.”
Wright and the Hannaryz will look to open their season on a high note when they take on the Sendai 89ers on Saturday, October 1. – Rappler.com