GILAS Pilipinas big man Marcus Douthit was supposed to play no more than five minutes against Hong Kong on Wednesday night and spend the rest of the match resting his injured right calf.
But with the former British Colony giving the Filipinos fits for more than three quarters, Gilas coach Chot Reyes was left with no choice but to play Douthit for more than 31 minutes, depriving the naturalized player much-needed healing time on the injury.
“It’s (right calf muscle) hurting,” said Douthit. “I wasn’t expecting to play a lot (against Hong Kong), but under the circumstance, Hong Kong stuck around.”
The former draft pick of the Los Angeles Lakers is now taking advantage of the rest day on Thursday to ice and rest the sore calf before plunging back to action on Friday in Gilas' knockout quarterfinal duel against the tall and physical Kazakhstan squad.
Gilas can only hope the calf injury won't be a problem in the knockout rounds since Douthit will be central to Gilas' bid to clinch one of three spots in next year's world championships in Spain - or perhaps win the country's first Asian championship in 28 years.
On defense alone, Douthit will be invaluable no matter who Gilas plays from hereon - whether it's the tall Kazakhs in the quarterfinals, or Yi Jianlian and China in the semifinals, or perhaps Hamed Hadadi and Iran in the finals.
The Providence College product, however, is not looking past the quarterfinals at this time, saying the Kazakhs are physical and dangerous off the boards because of their size and European-style of play.
“Kazakhstan is a physical team. Their big guys can space the floor and shoot the ball well,” noted Douthit, who scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds in Gilas’ 67-55 win over Hong Kong on Wednesday.
“Their wing guys can shoot too so we need to deny them the ball a lot though we’re a lot quicker so hopefully we can take advantage of that come Friday,” he added.