INSTEAD of Gilas Pilipinas being concerned with the naturalized players enlisted by other countries for the coming Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship, it is Gilas' rivals who should be worried about Marcus Douthit in the August 1-11 tournament.
Gilas deputy coach Nash Racela stressed this point on Friday, saying the presence of Douthit in the middle will be a big factor in the nationals’ bid to finish in the top three of the Manila showpiece and earn a spot in next year’s Fiba-World Basketball Championship in Spain.
“Rather than thinking or saying sino ba kinuha nila (Middle East teams, etc), I would say mas malaking bagay sa atin si Marcus Douthit because without him, we won’t be that competitive,”Racela told Spin.ph.
Racela served as assistant to coach Chot Reyes during the 2007 Fiba-Asia meet in Tokushima, Japan where the Philippines – playing without a naturalized player - placed ninth and failed to make the quarterfinals.
But with Douthit finally coming on board in 2010, Gilas readily plugged that huge gaping hole in the middle. The nationals made it as far as the semifinals of the Fiba-Asia meet in 2011 and eventually finished fourth as the 6-foot-10 Douthit asserted his presence inside.
“Dati we would always say, 'We’re one legitimate big man away.' But now, we have a legitimate big man in Marcus. Malaking bagay talaga siya sa atin,” added Racela, also the head coach of Far Eastern University in the UAAP.
The Middle East teams are also stacking up their respective rosters with naturalized players. Jordan, for one, will not be bringing back Rasheem Wright, but Andre Emmett is expected to fill in the gap.
The 6-foot-5 Emmett is a noted scoring machine during his college years with Texas Tech University, as shown when he scored 71 points while playing for the Shandong Lions in China three years ago.
He was selected 35th overall by the Seattle Supersonics in the 2004 NBA draft.
Jarvis Hayes, the 10th pick overall in the 2003 NBA draft by the Washington Wizards, appears to be a cinch for the Qatari national team’s naturalized spot, although other options include 6-foot-5 guard Trey Johnson and Boney Watson.
Lebanon on the other hand, will have seven-foot Loren Woods as its naturalized player, while Japan has old hand JR Sakuragi (formerly JR Henderson).