GETTING a reliable backup for naturalized player Marcus Douthit is one of the must-do's Gilas Pilipinas needs to tick off especially with age fast catching up on the towering 6-foot-10 center.
But the long naturalization process and the huge amount of money needed to lure a prospective player in so short a time – especially with the Fiba-Asia Men’s Basketball Championship just seven months from now - have kept Gilas from hiring one, national coach Chot Reyes said.
“Obviously, we’re looking at backups for Marcus, pero di ganun ka-simple iyan,” said Reyes shortly after his meeting with PBA commissioner Chito Salud on Tuesday afternoon.
“Number one, he has to get his papers (in order), and number two, paano ang sweldo nun? It’s hard to pay somebody just to be a backup,” he added.
Douthit, the former Providence College stalwart and second-round draftee of the Los Angeles Lakers, is turning 33 this April. He was granted his naturalization papers in March of 2011 and played as for Gilas in the 2011 Jones Cup, and later on anchored the Nationals’ fourth-place finish in the Fiba-Asia Olympic qualifying meet.
In the case of Douthit, Reyes said it took about seven to eight months before his naturalization papers were completed, at which time he had to be provided a place to stay and salary big enough to support his family's everyday needs.
The same will have to be spent for another naturalized player which Reyes estimates would amount to more than a million monthly, including housing.
Initially, Denver center JaVale McGee was seriously considered for naturalization. However, the huge contract he signed with the Nuggets alone entails a serious amount of money for insurance cover in the event he plays for the Philippine team. The plan was eventually scrapped.
Besides, Reyes said it would not be practical to spend a lot of money for a backup player since he would be under-utilized given the limited tournaments being joined by the national team.
“Unlike sa Lebanon kasi, may imports sila buong taon. So there’s no issue dahil talagang sine-swelduhan sila. Kasi buong taon naglalaro ang mga imports dun,” explained the former Talk ‘N Text coach.
Douthit played a total of 12 games for the original Gilas squad from 2010-2011, logging 22.33 points, 17.67 rebounds, 3.235 blocks and 2.17 assists in 39.25 minutes of action.
He was loaned as an import to Air21 during the 2011-2012 Commissioner’s Cup and went on to post averages of 20.33 points, 20.33 rebounds, 3.78 assists and 2.22 blocks in nine games.
Just this month, Douthit suited up for Gilas in the Dubai invitational basketball tournament where the Nationals placed sixth, and then manned the middle for the team in the 19th Super Kung Sheung Cup in Hong Kong which the Filipinos ruled via a five-game sweep, capped by a come-from-behind 81-77 win over deposed champion Southern California-Fukienese Association in the finals.