INCHEON, South Korea — Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia assured that Gilas Pilipinas will have a complete lineup in the Asian Games amid reports that Marcus Douthit's eligibility as Andray Blatche's replacement is set to be questioned by the Philippines' top rivals.
Garcia, who is also the country’s chef de mission in the Asiad, said there was "no issue" with the process of replacing Blatche with Douthit which the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) approved, shortly after declaring with finality that Blatche is ineligible for the Asiad under the three-year residency rule for naturalized players.
“The issue is not existing. There is no issue,” Garcia told Spin.ph after the flag-raising ceremony on Thursday afternoon at the Athletes’ Village in this bustling city. “I can’t say more than the fact that Douthit was accepted as replacement for Blatche and we have 12 players in the lineup.”
Reports surfaced in Manila that Douthit’s eligibility may be questioned during Friday’s team managers meeting on the eve of the men’s basketball competition on grounds that changes to the lineup are only allowed in cases of 'injuries or medical reasons' and not in cases involving ineligibility.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Manny V. Pangilinan, however, pointed out that they were given a written authorization by the OCA to replace Blatche with Douthit and insert Jimmy Alapag in the lineup.
Garcia also made it clear that Douthit has been declared eligible to play for the Philippines during the delegation registration meeting (DRM) last week.
“I don’t know where (the reports) came from. Because I’m definitely sure that the eligibility problem of Blatche was resolved. He cannot play. But in the DRM meeting, we submitted the name of Douthit as replacement and they accepted,” said Garcia.
The PSC chairman said not even the specter of playing with only 11 players didn't even in his mind since the OCA allowed Gilas to bring in Alapag in the lineup.
“Alapag was also accepted as a replacement. If there was any concern on the eligibility or process of replacing Blatche, it should have been brought up in that meeting,” said Garcia.
Garcia said the SBP will be standing on solid legal ground in the event questions on the Douthit-for-Blatche switch will be brought up in the team managers’ meeting which will take place on Friday.
“That’s the responsibility of the team captain in the meeting to answer. It was never brought up and discussed in the DRM meeting," he said.