GILAS Pilipinas big man Marcus Douthit believes now is the perfect time for the national team to look for its next naturalized player.
At 32 years old, Douthit admits his legs are not getting any younger after serving as the focal point of Gilas’ front court for the past three years.
The former Providence College stalwart, in fact, gives himself three to four more years of playing competitively for the national team.
“Honestly, I got like three to four more years of playing at this high level,” said Douthit when asked by Spin.ph on how long more he expects to stay with Gilas after leading the team to the semifinals of the Fiba-Asia Men’s Basketball Championship two years ago.
And Douthit couldn’t think of a better time for the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) to look for the next naturalized after him.
“I’ve heard that they are now looking at either (Denzel) Bowles and Mike (Dunigan) as the next naturalized players,” he added. “I guess they have to do it quick.”
Gilas coach Chot Reyes had earlier expressed his desire to naturalize either Dunigan of Air21 or Bowles of San Mig Coffee.
Douthit said he has no problem with that, although the 6-foot-10 center from Syracuse, New York stressed the the processing of papers, not to mention the tedious waiting for the bill to be passed into law at both House of Congress, should be allotted more time.
“It took me more than a year to get my naturalization papers,” said the 233-pound slot man after being informed about the possible naturalization of Bowles and Dunigan.
Pressed to comment on whom to pick between Bowles and Dunigan, Douthit gave out a hearty laugh and safely answered, “It depends on what we really want.”
The affable big man whom Gilas teammates fondly calls as `Kuya Marcus’ has an unsolicited advice to local basketball officials with regards to the new player to be naturalized for the national team.
“I think we should not just look at the talent and what the player can give our country, but we also have to look at the players’ attitude and availability,” Douthit pointed out.
“I am not trying to praise myself or what, but look at me, I am always here ... Always available to practice and play with the team,” reiterated the second-round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA draft.
“It will be a big problem if a naturalized player will be on a seasonal basis. It might pose bigger problems,” said Douthit, who nonetheless said he’s more than willing to lend a hand in helping develop the player who will succeed him.
Under Fiba rules, member countries like the Philippines are allowed to beef up their lineup with at least one naturalized player per tournament.