MARCUS Douthit believes his former Smart-Gilas teammate Japeth Aguilar has the “athleticism and drive” to become the first pure Filipino to make it to the NBA.
“He has the athleticism and the drive to play there so hopefully he’ll get a chance,” the naturalized Filipino said on Wednesday night during a chance interview at the sidelines of the PBA Philippine Cup games at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Douthit gave the vote of confidence ahead of the NBA D-League Draft on November 2, where the 25-year-old Aguilar is hoping to be picked.
“I hope the best for him,” said the former Los Angeles Lakers draftee. “I think the choice he made as far as trying out in the NBA is something that he needed to do for himself.”
Back in the country after a vacation in New York, the 32-year-old Douthit revealed he had talks with NBA teams like Memphis, Portland, Orlando, and New York during the summer about his own NBA career.
“I had talks this summer but right now my contract is with Gilas.”
Douthit still pledged his allegiance to the national team, saying he would continue donning the country’s colors if his contract is renewed.
“I would love to be here, but, you know, it’s a business and if they choose to keep you around, I’ll be here,” said Douthit, whose contract with Gilas will be up next September.
For now, he is already looking forward to his next tour of duty for the country and with the new teammates he is expected to have with the retooled Smart Gilas 2.0 squad.
Gilas, which conquered the Jones Cup in August and finished fourth in the Fiba Asia Cup the following month, will return to action in January, when it will be participating in tournaments in Dubai and Hong Kong.
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve been with four different teams so adjustment is nothing new to me,” said Douthit, who has suited up for the national team since 2010.
Asked if he would be willing to be an import again in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup after being one in last year’s edition for Air21, Douthit said he “wouldn’t mind.”
“It’s up to the Gilas team and depends on Commissioner (Chito Salud) also,” said Douthit, who averaged 20.3 points, 20.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.2 blocks, and 1.2 steals in 42 minutes per game with the Express last year.