NATURALIZED player Marcus Douthit is back in the country and raring to get back to training for Gilas Pilipinas' stint in the Fiba World Cup in Spain once he fully recovers from a right calf muscle injury.
The 6-foot-10 Providence College alumnus, afterall, said he is looking to steer Gilas Pilipinas to an improbable feat in the world basketball championship – surpass the Philippines’ best ever finish in the biennial meet.
“I just hope we’ll do okay so we can finish the highest the Philippine team ever achieved in the worlds ever. That’s our goal right now,” said the 33-year-old former draftee of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Douthit may not be aware of it, but the Philippines won a bronze in the 1954 world championship in Rio de Jainero, Brazil behind a team coached by Herminio Silva and bannered by the legendary Caloy 'The Big Difference’ Loyzaga, Francisco Rabat and Mariano Tolentino.
It has been the highest finish ever by the country in the quadrennial meet and the best achievement yet by any Asian country. Loyzaga even made it to the Mythical Five of the tournament.
Still anything is possible as Gilas Pilipinas had proven in the last Fiba-Asia Championship when it finished a surprise runner-up behind champion Iran to earn a berth in the Fiba World Cup for the first time in 35 years.
Douthit never got to suit up during the championship game as he was hampered by the calf muscle injury he sustained during Gilas Pilipinas’ semifinal match against South Korea.
The 33-year-old naturalized player left for the US shortly after the Fiba-Asia meet to rest his injured calf and returned to the country after almost a month’s rest.
Douthit said his mindset is to return to training as soon as he fully recovers from his injury.
“I’ll still try to know what the schedule is with the bosses (Gilas management and coaching staff), but definitely, I’ll have lots of training once I’m ready,” he said.
Asked about the possibility of Gilas Pilipinas being bracketed against either defending champion USA or powerhouse Spain, Douthit said it doesn’t matter to him as long as the nationals could make it deep into the tournament.
“I mean, it would be great and blessing to play (against USA), but no matter who we play against, it doesn’t matter,” he said.