UNKNOWN to many, Marcus Douthit left for the US shortly after leading expansion team Blackwater Elite to its first-ever win in the PBA.
But management of the Ever Bilena franchise is optimistic that the hardworking Gilas Pilipinas naturalized center will return in time for the Elite's showdown against the struggling NLEX Road Warriors on Tuesday.
“He left last night. After our win versus San Miguel Beer, he immediately went to the airport,” said Blackwater alternate governor Wilbert Loa.
“Marcus will attend to some personal matters in Los Angeles, then he’ll be back on Monday so he can re-join us on Tuesday,” added the team official.
Loa bared the US trip was part of their agreement when Douthit signed to play for Blackwater as a replacement for the injured Chris Charles two weeks ago.
“Bago pa man namin siya napapirma, alam na namin na kailangan niyang umalis ng US kagabi (Wednesday night). Sakto nga kasi first game kami kahapon, otherwise nagka-problema kami,” Loa said.
Team owner Dioceldo Sy bared that he wants to keep Douthit in the team while Charles recuperates from a hamstring injury suffered in a pre-tournament game.
“I would want Douthit to stay with us. I don’t mind paying two imports at the same time. It’s beyond our control. Chris is injured, we don’t want to rush him,” said Sy when reached by Spin.ph from Singapore where he is on a business trip.
The outspoken Ever Bilena president and CEO also expressed his delight over how Douthit has been providing the leadership to his team apart from the other intangibles he brings to the table.
“Marcus is the most experienced among the long line of imports today. He has played against some of the best in the world and he is supplying that needed experience to our young players,” he said.
Team officials also confirmed that Douthit gave out his won-game bonus to his teammates after the 80-77 win over the Beermen on Wednesday night, which ended the Elite's run of 14 successive defeats.
And while Douthit is in the US, Blackwater will have to focus on simulating his role in practice.
Elite assistant coach Boy Sablan bared that though Charles is already part of the team’s shooting drills, they will not rush the 7-foot-1 import into action.
“Hindi pa namin isasama sa ensayo si Chris kasi hamstring 'yun eh. Recurring 'yun. Mahirap, baka masira ang career ng bata,” Sablan said.
“I think Chris will need another week to fully recuperate. Then dun pa lang siya ma-a-assess kung kelan pupuwedeng maglaro,” he added
But in case Douthit fails to make it in time for their next assignment, Sablan bared that they will have to play it by ear.
“Siguro by Tuesday pwede na si Chris, pero madedesisyunan namin iyan siguro right on the game itself,” Sablan said.
Loa, for his part, reiterated that as of the moment, Douthit is still their listed import in the PBA.
“Wala pa. Si Marcus pa rin ang official import namin. Wala pa kaming advise sa PBA, hindi pa namin siya binababa. Babalik naman siya sa Monday eh. Tuesday pa ang next game namin,” he said.