MANILA, Philippines - Whether or not Marcus Douthit will be signed as a naturalization candidate depends on how he performs with Smart-Gilas in the five-team Invitational Basketball Challenge, now on its second day at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
Douthit, 30, is on a two-week trial. If he makes the grade, the 6-10 center will suit up for the Philippines at the Asian Games in Guangzhou in November. He will also wear the national colors at the FIBA Asia Championships, the London Olympic regional qualifying tournament, in Beirut next year.
Gilas coach Rajko Toroman said Douthit could be the big man he has been looking for. C. J. Giles, Jamal Sampson and Milan Vucicevic had their chance to play for Gilas but none passed Toroman’s test.
“I spoke with Marcus’ Croatian coach when he played in Belgium and received a positive recommendation,” said Toroman. “When Marcus played in Russia, he had solid stats in two games against the top team CKSA Moscow. In Belgium, he was paid 600,000 euros for two years – which isn’t bad. His teammates like him. He’s a smart player, very creative. He knows how to pass. He might just be our man.”
Once Douthit inks a contract, his wife and three children will fly in to join him in Manila.
Toroman said Douthit is adjusting to Manila weather and should be able to cope once he get used to the humidity. “He just came from Russia,” said Toroman. “I like his attitude. He’s excited to play. He wants to play in the Olympics. This is a new experience for him, to play for a national team.”
Douthit (pronounced Dow-thick) played four years for Providence College, the school that produced NBA stars Lenny Wilkens, Jimmy Walker and Marvin Barnes. He never averaged in double figures in scoring and took only a single three-point attempt in 122 career varsity games. But Douthit finished second all-time in blocked shots at Providence and as a senior in 2003-04, swatted away 3.2 shots a game to rank seventh in the NCAA.
Nicknamed “Slink,” Douthit isn’t known for his offense. “He didn’t need to be a big-time scorer for us,” said Providence coach Tim Welsh. “We just wanted him to rebound and play in the middle of our zone defense. He’s a shot blocker and an intimidator. He has good passing skills around the basket. He can change a game and be dominant inside. You can’t double down on him because he’s such a good passer.”
Writer Michael Bradley said, “Though not imposing physically, he moves well and has excellent instincts – he has a solid shooting touch and is long enough to rebound well and cause problems defensively.”
Douthit’s first taste of international competition came before his junior season when he averaged 13.8 points and 4.8 rebounds during Providence’s 10-day, five-game tour of Italy.
Despite his unimpressive scoring stats at Providence, Douthit was picked on the second round by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA draft. He never made it to the NBA but had a close call with the Los Angeles Clippers. Douthit has traveled the globe playing hoops. Among his stops were Turkey, Korea and Russia.
In 2004, Douthit was implicated in a theft and embezzlement case involving fake car accident and slip-and-fall claims of P160,000. It was found out that he deposited $6,500 in his bank account after collecting on a false insurance claim in 2001. But Douthit’s agent Charles Bonsignore said James and Kristen Cook, the player’s friends, masterminded the scam and used his account for themselves.
Toroman said the tournament will introduce Fil-Ams Chris Lutz of Marshall University and Marcio Lassiter of California State at Fullerton to Filipino fans.
Lutz, 25, played two years for Purdue before moving to Marshall in 2008-09 when he averaged 10.7 points and shot .374 from three-point distance. Lassiter, 23, hit at an 8.9 clip with the Titans varsity in 2008-09. Both are shooting guards.
“Chris is still learning our system,” said Toroman. “I like his attitude. He works hard and is a deadly shooter. Marcio is a warrior on the court. He’s physical. But he has a low pain threshold. I’m hoping Chris and Marcio can play for us at a high level of intensity because they can make a big difference in winning or losing a game.”
Toroman said Talk ‘N’ Text power forward Kelly Williams will join the team for the Asian Games but not for the Invitationals.
“We’re looking at another point guard,” said Toroman. “Ryan Reyes may not be available as his wife is giving birth in November. Another Fil-Am Stanley Pringle is available. He played well in Belgium this past season and is looking for a contract. We’ll probably give him a tryout.”
Pringle, 23, played two years at Penn State and as a senior in 2008-09, averaged 12.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists while shooting .450 from three-point range for the varsity that won the National Invitation Tournament. He is a 6-1 guard.