GIVEN Iran’s size and physicality, Marcus Douthit strongly believes the Iranians will be a force to reckon with come the 27th Fiba-Asia Men’s Championships that kicks off on August 1 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 6-foot-10 Douthit said having a 7-foot-3 giant in Hamed Haddadi anchoring Iran’s defense easily install the two-time Asian champion as favorites in the tournament that serves as qualifier for next year’s Fiba-World Championship in Spain.
“I’m more worried about Iran because they are out with a vengeance,” Douthit told Spin.ph shortly after Gilas Pilipinas conducted a hard practice on Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The hardworking naturalized big man said there’s no doubt the Iranians are extra motivated to play better this year after finishing a dismal fifth during the 2011 edition of the biennial tournament in Wuhan, China, when they were stunned by Jordan in the knockout quarterfinal phase.
“Two years ago they lost (the Fiba-Asia men’s title) in Wuhan, so I’m quite sure they won’t be taken lightly.” he said. “Of course, Iran is the most physical team in Asia by far.”
Nevertheless, Douthit also considers China as another team Gilas Pilipinas shouldn’t take lightly owing to its height, quickness, and outside shooting.
“I think China is beatable but again, it’s not just gonna be China and Iran but every single game will be tough. But hopefully, as all are said and done, we hope to match up with Iran and China,” added the former Los Angeles Lakers draftee.
While every Asian team expects NBA veteran Yi Jianlian to anchor China’s bid for a back-to-back title, Douthit believes the defending champions have a slew of tall forwards and guards who could cause match-up problems, too.
“China is more of finesse though their size really gives them the advantage because they are taller in the guard spot,” noted the 33-year-old product of Provident College.
“They got 6-foot-10 or 6-foot-11 players coming off the bench so it doesn‘t matter if some of their guys foul out. They are long and tall,” he added.