PHILIPPINE Sports Commission chairman Ritchie Garcia believes there is a chance that Marcus Douthit will be able to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the Asian Games in place of Andray Blatche.
Garcia said the Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee (Iagoc) appears to be open to Douthit being tapped as a replacement for Gilas Pilipinas in light of the controversy surrounding Blatche's eligibility for the Asian Games.
Blatche has been barred by the Iagoc from playing in the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea by citing an Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) rule that requires naturalized players to be residents of the country they would be representing for at least three years.
Due to the setback, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is, among other options, looking at replacing Blatche with Douthit, who was naturalized in 2011 to play for the original Gilas Pilipinas squad.
Blatche was naturalized by an act of Congress just months ago.
Garcia said he feels the option of Douthit replacing an ineligible Blatche for the Asian Games is possible, based on the communications from Iagoc and OCA.
“Wala pang official pero sa mga communication namin, parang open naman sila doon. Pero hindi pa official na sabi nila na okay na to replace,” Garcia said.
There had been initial doubts on whether Douthit can be tapped as a replacement for an ineligible Blatche since Asian Games rules only allow changes in cases involving injuries or medical reasons.
But Garcia is optimistic the Iagoc will allow the switch, based on his initial communication with organizers.
“Sa tingin ko, parang they are considering it. Very favorable,” Garcia said.
The SBP on Tuesday said boycotting the Asian Games is also an option because of the 'unfair' decision.
Still, Garcia said other athletes preparing for the Asian Games have not been affected by the cloud of uncertainty hanging over the Philippine basketball team.
“They are all focused sa kanilang training. I think it won’t affect their performance. As I said, may frustration kung minsan but our athletes are motivated,” said Garcia.