Possibilities are endless as Phoenix welcomes Banchero, Manuel

Published May 15, 2021, 1:46 PM

by Jonas Terrado

Photo from PBA

Phoenix’s Matthew Wright and Justin Chua couldn’t wait to be able to work with new teammates Chris Banchero and Vic Manuel once full practices in preparation for the PBA’s 46th season can finally start.

The Fuel Masters made big moves last February first by acquiring Banchero from the Magnolia Hotshots Pambasang Manok in exchange for Calvin Abueva before landing Manuel from the Alaska Aces in a separate deal.

Plenty of possibilities are being seen as Phoenix hopes to improve its semifinal finish from last year’s Philippine Cup bubble with Banchero and Manuel joining forces with the likes of Wright, Chua, Jason Perkins, RJ Jazul and rookie Larry Muyang.

For one, Wright gets to form a dynamic backcourt tandem with Banchero, known for his offensive abilities and steady defending.

“I actually think Chris is a huge pickup for us,” Wright said in an interview with One Sports’ The Game. “Obviously, we lost some key guys but I think Chris is a dynamic player, he pushes the ball and that’s something we need. He’s a great defender as well.

“I’ve already spoken to him and I told him we’ve communicated on what we both wanted to accomplish and he’s on board. I think he’s gonna be great for our team,” added Wright.

Chua, fresh from being named Defensive Player of the Year by the PBA Press Corps, is relishing the chance to learn more from Manuel, who is considered as one of the league’s best big men.

“It’s hard to guard him, lalo na’t kundisyon siya and that is something that I also look forward sa practice, to start learning him also,” said Chua. “Siyempre, he’s a veteran na rin and he’s been very good in the PBA so I’m really excited to learn from him.”

The Fuel Masters won’t start holding scrimmages until it gets a clear view if Pasig City will allow them to train at Upper Deck Sports Center in Ortigas or in Batangas City where the PBA had already secured the approval of local officials.