MARCUS Douthit has time and again declared that he has no problem giving way to Andray Blatche, but that doesn't mean he will give up his Gilas Pilipinas without a fight.
Even though the Brooklyn Nets center is on track to becoming a naturalized Filipino by way of a congressional bill, Douthit made it clear he still expects to keep his spot in the Philippine team bound for the Fiba World Cup and the Asian Games later in the year.
“Of course! I am still expecting a slot,” said the hardworking 6-10 slotman, Gilas' naturalized player when it finished second to Iran in the last Fiba-Asia championships in Manila to earn a trip to the world championships for the first time since 1978.
“Him (Blatche) arriving to take my slot is not necessarily true,” he added. “It’s just one warm body. At the end of the day, it’s not about having the best player, it’s about what’s best for the team.”
The former Los Angeles Laker draftee said he doesn't look at it as a competition between him and Blatche but more on who can help Gilas achieve its goal in the worlds.
“You can put Lebron James on the team, if they’re not gonna win, he’s gonna have (a score of) 50, what’s the point? You know what I mean? It’s whatever player fits the system is best (option),” he said.
“I have always been ready. But at the end of the day, It’s not about me and Andray, it’s just about what is best for the team.
“If he fits the team better than I do, he deserves the spot. But if not, it is what it is. Like I said, it’s coach Chot’s (Reyes) job to put the best players on the court and the best team.
“If it is him or me, it don’t matter. Whatever decision it is, it’s the best decision.”
At the moment, Douthit said his motivation is to be in the best shape possible by the time Gilas coach Reyes makes his decision on who to name to the World Cup team.
“Right now the future (for me) is just practice. We get to that road, I’ll cross ‘em. Right now, I am here now and that’s what I am worried at … the moment,” said the 35-year-old center.
Douthit also bared that playing in the world championships has long been a dream. “It’s been a part of my plans ever since I joined Gilas, so we’ll see what happens,” he said.
And does he see Blatche as a threat to his dream?
“No, I don’t feel no threat towards nobody. At the end of the day, I will always be a part of Gilas,” he said.
“By Andray coming in, it just makes me want to play harder. It makes the determination of just not me but for the country to do better in the world game,” Douthit added. “I always give my hundred percent!”
Blatche's naturalization papers have already passed three readings in the lower house, though it still has to go through the same process in the Senate, which is on a break until May 5.
Once the Senate, through proponent Senator Sonny Angara, approves the bill on third and final reading, it will then be transmitted to Malacanang for President Aquino’s review and approval.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas officials are optimistic that the naturalization of Blatche will be approved on or before July 1, to make him available for the coming Fiba Asia Cup in China.