NATURALIZED big man Marcus Douthit believes experience has made Gilas Pilipinas a more potent team than the original Smart Gilas that advanced as far as the semifinals of the Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship two years ago.
That’s one of the major reasons why he likes Gilas' chances as it vies for one of three berths at stake in next year’s World Basketball Championship in the qualifier beginning this Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“The difference is we’ve (Gilas Pilipinas) been together for a certain amount of time. While the previous (Smart Gilas team) was (trained) a lot longer, these guys (in Gilas) are older and a lot more experienced so that’s a big plus,” said Douthit.
Douthit had to do it all as he was surrounded by young players with a sprinkling of a few PBA stalwarts in the 2011 Fiba-Asia championships in Wuhan, China. The 6-foot-10 product of Providence College ended up averaging 22.3 points, 17.6 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks.
With a more experienced support crew this time, Douthit feels he doesn't have to do as much.
“These guys have lot of experience, a lot of talent. We’ll just try to find a way to put it all together ... Experience is something you can’t teach,” added the 2004 second round draft pick of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Backing him up at the frontcourt are 6-foot-10 June Mar Fajardo and 6-foot-9 Japeth Aguilar, while helping out at the forward spot are known defensive stopper Marc Pingris and Ranidel de Ocampo.
Incidentally, both Aguilar and De Ocampo were teammates of Douthit at Smart Gilas Pilipinas two years ago.
“We got bigger, we got stronger. But the main thing, what we gained is experience ... that’s why a lot of teams in Asia have always won over us because they have been through the wars and they know what it takes in the game,” he said.
“(In 2011), we had young guys who can’t finish, that’s what happened to us in Wuhan. But now, we have older guys who know what it takes,” added the 33-year-old Douthit.
Gilas Pilipinas begins its Fiba-Asia quest against Saudi Arabia right on opening day.