From what they saw after the first practice session, Marcus Douthit will definitely be a big help for the Smart-Gilas national team.
“He’s a very clever big guy. He’s a good passer, has good basketball sense,” Smart-Gilas Serbian head coach Rajko Toroman said after the 6-foot-11 Douthit had his first scrimmage with the Nationals at the Arena in San Juan.
“He knows how to use spacing inside the floor. But of course, we have to check him play. Practice is one thing, playing the game in a real competition is different,” Toroman added.
The 30-year-old Douthit, a former draftee of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA Rookie Draft, arrived Tuesday morning after seeing action recently with the Krasnie Krilya Samara, a professional league in Russia.
Douthit will reinforce Smart-Gilas in the first MVP Invitational Championship, a pocket tournament that will also feature the Jordan national team, the Dongguan Leopards (a team from the Chinese Basketball Association), the PBA’s Talk ‘N Text and Barangay Ginebra.
Smart-Gilas team manager Frankie Lim said he too was impressed with Douthit’s basketball knowledge and the way he complemented his teammates.
“He looks good. He sees the floor well, has good post moves,” Lim said. “He shoots well from medium range. He’s impressive for a guy who just arrived from a long flight. He has great basketball sense too.”
“If he continues to play, well I think the team will have a good presence on the paint. At the same time he could help us on rebounds and defending the big guys,” he added.
Toroman also likened Douthit to former Smart-Gilas import CJ Giles, an athletic big man rather than Jamal Sampson, another ex-reinforcement of the Nationals who was a hardworking rebounder and an inside operator.
“But the good thing about him (compared to the two) is he’s a team player. He’s a good rebounder. Maybe he’s not yet in good shape. But he’s a team player. His teammates like him. He finds open man,” Toroman said.
"I checked his background from one of my friends who coached him in Croatia. This is coach is very strict, but he hasn't had a single problem with Marcus," he said.
The MVP Invitational Championship is set to open on June 24 at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, and the Nationals will face Dongguan on opening day. They will face Jordan on the 25th, before ending the opening round with an exhibition game with Ginebra on June 26.
While the games against Ginebra and Talk 'n Text are all exhibition games, these will all count on the win-loss records of Smart-Gilas, Jordan, and Dongguan. The top two teams will play in the finals on June 27.
Waylon Galvez, Manila Bulletin