Wright is best pure shooter Gilas has
TAIPEI – Is Matthew Wright the best shooter for Gilas Pilipinas?
“It’s hard to say, because the measure of a great shooter is consistency,” coach Chot Reyes said on Sunday night after Wright put on a show and torched Chinese Taipei A with four triples in an 88-72 win in the Jones Cup Invitational that finally got the Filipinos on track.
Reyes rattled off two names that fit his national program perfectly some years back.
“Larry Fonacier and Jeff Chan are better, though they are (now) in the latter parts of their careers,” Reyes, who won this tournament in 2013 with the two gunslingers in an all-pro lineup, said. “They are the benchmarks for me.”
He knows that he has a diamond in the rough in Wright, though, and Reyes also has one player in mind who is better at that shooting guard spot for the national team at this time.
“For me, the ideal shooter (for the international game) is Marcio Lassiter,” Reyes said. “He is a great shooter, he is strong, he’s tough and he’s a great defender. That’s his advantage over all of them (Fonacier and Chan included). He is a much better defender than all of them.”
Cool and collected even in the most intense moments here, Wright is showing offensive skills best suited for Gilas in this tournament and he is making the opposition pay in very short instances that he is left open.
Lassiter suited up for Gilas in its formative years and has never made it back since, with issues concerning his health keeping him out of the squad that played in Changsha, China, in the last Asian Championship.
But Reyes likes what he sees, like Wright’s attitude and focus.
“He’s willing to learn, he has the tools, he’s athletic and very smart,” Reyes said when asked if Wright is getting to the level that Lassiter is at now.
And the first thing Reyes wants is for Wright to be able to defend better.
“That’s typical of a scorer (being a weak defender),” Reyes said. “And he’s willing to learn that, to improve on that.”
“In terms of overall value to the team, Marcio is better,” Reyes explained as he reiterated that defense helps teams win. “But if you talk of pure shooting alone, there’s no doubt that Matt has the edge over everyone else.”
Reyes praised Wright for having the right attitude, something he made sure that the 6-foot-3 swingman possesses when he first laid eyes on him several years back in an Under-18 tournament.
And with that, the Gilas coach knows that he will have the perfect player that he needs in due time, like as early as the start of the World Cup Qualifying in November back in this thriving country.