First impressions last.
Doing more than what he was asked for, import Marcus Douthit turned out to be a big hit as he helped power Smart-Gilas RP team to a 74-64 win over China’s Dongguan New Century at the start of the Smart Philippine Invitational Challenge Thursday at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
Dishing out an all-around performance in his debut, the 6-foot-10 Douthit nearly had a double-double with 26 points and nine rebounds in the Nationals' thrilling come-from-behind victory.
His inside plays were as dominating as his defensive job on the other end, thus getting huge raves from Serbian mentor Rajko Toromas.
His teammates were also pleased and dazzled with his energetic performance especially at the time when he sparked the team’s comeback.
"I really like what Marcus brings to us," said Toroman. "He's impressive, plays smart and is in good condition."
Douthit is using this four-day tournament as his tryout for a team out to make an impression in the Asian Games in Guanzhou, China this November before embarking on a big mission – qualify for the London Games.
"After this tournament, we will to make a decision if he's the right guy for us," Toroman said.
Douthit had 10 points in the first half alone as he powered the Nationals to an early 18-5 start. And after the team trailed by seven points, he provided the “Big D” against the driving guards of the Chinese team while grabbing offensive boards for putback to put Smart Gilas back in the game.
And with the victory, the Filipinos can clinch a spot in the finals provided they beat the Jordan National team, bound for the FIBA World Championship in Turkey this August, last night, being played as of presstime.
The locals also played key roles.
Chris Tiu had 10 points and provided the intangibles in the fourth, Mac Baracael and Fil-am Chris Lutz provided defensive help while JV Casio, back from an injury, was also solid in the backcourt.
Smart Gilas won despite missing all of their 20 attempts from the three-point area. Toroman and his crews are still trying to make up for their paltry showing in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup in Doha where they finished seventh.
"We never expected that we would have offensive problems in Doha and we hope to make up for it in this tournament," Toroman said.
Jonas Terrado, Manila Bulletin