ALTHOUGH Gilas Pilipinas has assembled the tallest ever national squad in Philippine basketball history, big man Marcus Douthit has warned against sky-high expectations.
The naturalized Filipino stressed that the roster may look formidable, but until they have worked things out as a team on the court, it would be pointless to talk about winning the Fiba-Asia Championship which the country is hosting for the first time in 40 years in August.
Three slots to the world championship are at stake in the August 1-11 showpiece and the Philippines will be gunning for one of them, but even that would be a formidable task for a team that has had little time to jell, according to Douthit.
“I mean, it’s great to have big guys in the team but that’s just on paper because when you get on the court, it’s different,” Douthit told Spin.ph.
The 6-foot-10 Douthit will get plenty of help in the paint with the 6-foot-10 June Mar Fajardo and 7-footer Greg Slaughter possibly spelling him if the two young players make the final 12-man lineup of Chot Reyes.
But even with the height and the talent depth in the 17-man Gilas Pilipinas pool, Douthit said it’s hard to say how far the national squad will go in the Asian championships since the team has yet to play together in tune-up matches.
“It’s good to get some guys who understand the system but you know, it’s kind of hard now to focus ahead because they (PBA players from the pool) have to go back to their mother teams,” Douthit added.
Douthit and the 16 other players in the pool gathered for their once-a-week practice at the Philsports Arena on Monday night under Reyes.
The setup was approved by the PBA board, even as it unanimously approved the shelving of the Governors Cup — the season-ending conference now scheduled to start on August 14 shortly after the Fiba-Asia tournament — to clear the way for Gilas Pilipinas' buildup.
Given the short period of preparation, the player from Syracuse, New York is hoping that Gilas Pilipinas could make the most of it, though he noted that other Asian rivals hold a decided advantage in terms of preparation and familiarity.
“I think everything is there (talent and speed). We just have to work hard and be dedicated to run the system, then learn from each other because all the (other Asian) teams have been living and playing together for years,” explained the 32-year-old.
Douthit was granted his naturalization papers on March 11, 2011, which gave him the opportunity to play for the national squad late that same year in the Fiba-Asia men’s championships in Wuhan, China where Gilas finished in fourth place.