PBA commissioner Chito Salud declared on Saturday that naturalized player Marcus Douthit is eligible to play in the coming Commissioner’s Cup either with his mother team Air21 or with any other squad should the Express decide to release him.
Salud made this clear in response to a post by the 6-foot-11 Smart Gilas mainstay on the social networking site Twitter expressing impatience over the clarification of his status in the wake of interest from Talk 'N Text.
Douthit tweeted on his account @DouthitMarcus, “Can somebody tell the commissioner to hurry up so i know if im going to play next conference.”
The commissioner clarified Douthit can play in the mid-season tournament featuring imports of unlimited height, with Air21, the team where he played for last season which still holds the playing rights on him.
“Air21 has the rights to him (Douthit) like an ordinary import, unless the club waives him, in which other case, other teams can engage his services,” said Salud.
From the looks of it, the Express appeared not too keen on tapping the services of Douthit this time as coach Franz Pumaren recently revealed to Spin.ph that he’s looking at Michael Dunigan as possible import for the conference that starts on February 8.
Talk n’ Text is eyeing to utilize Douthit, who is under the payroll of the Smart group as a member of the national team, as an import in the tournament.
However, Air21 governor Lito Alvarez seemed hesitant to give Douthit his release papers, telling Spin.ph that Air21 is looking at Douthit as a back-up option in the event Dunigan fails to live up to expectations.
“Mahirap pa kasi sumugal sa ngayon eh. Video pa lang ang nakikita namin dun sa import naming na paparating," said Alvarez.
But Alvarez said they have no plan to “hostage” the career of Douthit.
“Kung may teams na gustong kunin si Marcus, pwede naman nila kaming kausapin. Open kami to talk”, said Alvarez while denying an approach from Talk n’ Text Tropang Texters.
Asked how much Air21 will ask in return for the rights to Douthit, Alvarez was replied: “Mapapag-usapan naman yun."
Air21 coach Franz Pumaren explained why they are not giving Douthit a second tour of duty after an impressive stint with the team in last year’s Commissioner’s Cup.
“Gusto namin ang laro ni Marcus eh. Kaya lang ayaw na naming guluhin ang focus niya sa national team”, said Pumaren.
PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial likewise clarified the league is not taking Douthit’s tweets against him.
“Hindi naman. Kailangan lang sigurong ipaalam sa kanya ang rules ng liga,” said Marcial.