The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) hopes for Senate approval of American import Marcus Douthit's Filipino citizenship at the soonest possible time.
SBP executive director Noli Eala said in an interview Wednesday that the country's governing body for basketball wants the process for naturalization to be completed by Oct. 16, as the senators will then go on a recess until the first week of November.
“We’re hoping that the Senate will pass the naturalization papers of Douthit by October 16. Otherwise, he will not be able to join the Asian Games in Guangzhou," said Eala.
The House of Representatives made a shift action on the bill filed by Antipolo Congressman Robbie Puno seeking Douthit's naturalization so the player may help the country regain its old status in Asian basketball. The lower house passed the resolution last Monday.
The document will be sent to the Senate Thursday, with a hearing hoped to be called early next week.
“I want to credit the help extended by the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission, and thank them for it. I just hope the senators can also see the light in our bid to naturalize Douthit," added Eala.
Besides the RP-Smart Gilas national developmental team’s campaign in the Asian Games in November, Douthit is expected to suit up for the Olympics-qualifying FIBA Asia Championship next year.
Meanwhile, the papers of PBA cager Solomon Mercado were forwarded Wednesday to the Guangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee for accreditation .
“We have also forwarded the papers of Chris Lutz, while Douthit’s documents will be sent as soon as his naturalization is approved. We will then name our final 12 players in a team managers’ meeting," added Eala.
Should Douthit get his naturalization papers and accreditation in time, he will join forces with 6-foot-9 slotman Asi Taulava and 6-foot-5 Kelly Williams, two players the team requested from the PBA, as well as 6-foot-9 Japeth Aguilar and seven-foot center Greg Slaughter, to form a formidable frontline.
Rey Joble, GMA News