MANILA, Philippines—There was little doubt that Marcus Douthit would make it to the Smart Gilas-Pilipinas basketball program.
The RP team Monday hired the 6-foot-10 Douthit as candidate for naturalization after the American import’s sterling performance in the Smart Philippine Invitational Challenge that ended Sunday.
“Yes, it’s Douthit and we are very happy to have him in the team,” said Smart Gilas team manager Frankie Lim.
Lim approved the recommendation of coach Rajko Toroman a day after the Nationals captured the Invitational crown with a 91-80 win over the Jordan national team.
“We think he can help us in so many ways,” Lim said of Douthit. “[He’s] a very smart player. His teammates like him a lot.”
The 30-year-old Douthit has not yet reached peak form, but Toroman said the former Providence U alumnus fits his need for a reliable big man for Smart Gilas.
“We’ve been looking for a player who could address our problem inside [the paint]. I think he could help us fill that void,” said Toroman.
Douthit, who played for several professional ballclubs in Europe, will undergo naturalization process as soon as the House of Representatives starts its session next month.
“His experience as a player will be a big help for the team,” said Toroman.
He said the plan is to naturalize Douthit in time for the Asian Games on Nov. 12 to 27.
Douthit is also expected to help the national team in the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship in Lebanon, which offers a lone slot to the 2012 London Olympics.
Douthit is the RP five’s third candidate for naturalization. CJ Giles was dropped for his erratic behavior, while Jamal Sampson, a former journeyman in the NBA, was cut because of injuries.
“He’s more like CJ than Jamal,” said Toroman of Douthit. “He’s not strong like Jamal, but the good thing about him is he’s a team player and a good rebounder.”
Douthit, who averaged 18 points and nine rebounds in three games, scored 26 points and grabbed nine boards in a 74-64 triumph over the Dongguan New Century Leopards.
He posted 18 points and six rebounds despite suffering a sprain in the first half of Smart Gilas’ 75-83 elimination-round defeat to Jordan.
June Navarro, Phil. Daily Inquirer