Matthew Wright is far from convinced that Phoenix has become a legitimate contender in the PBA Philippine Cup despite its franchise best start of five straight victories.
The Fuel Masters stayed unbeaten in the season's first conference following an thrilling 83-82 decision over the NLEX Road Warriors on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Phoenix blew a 17-point lead in the second then battled back from an 11-point deficit in the third before regaining the lead for good, something that worries Wright, who concludes that the team is still a work in progress.
"We haven't done anything," Wright stressed. "In my opinion, we're still in the middle of the pack, we just happened to have a 5-0 record right now."
The Fuel Masters takes another litmus test before going on a lengthy break when they face the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in a battle of top two teams on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Up next for Phoenix when the league resumes hostilities are NorthPort on Feb. 27 and Alaska on March 1. The PBA takes a break due to the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers.
Whether Phoenix can make a good run in the playoffs will be under scruitiny late in the elimination round. The Fuel Masters close out the elimination round with games against reigning Governors' Cup champion Magnolia (March 6), Commissioner's Cup titlist Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (March 10) and four-time Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer (March 16).
Undoubtedly, Wright is one of the reasons why Phoenix is off to its best start in franchise history.
The Toronto native is averaging 19.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.2 steals.
He struggled early against NLEX before picking up steam in the fourth by draining seven of his 17 points, including key shots that prevented Phoenix from absorbing its first loss.
"It was a weird game. We were up by 17, then we were down by 11, and then at the end of the game it's almost like rugby. I'm just glad we were able to get out of this victorious, because if not, we would have a rough day in practice," Wright said. (JT)