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Congress Grants Douthit’s Citizenship

October 5, 2010
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By TIMOTHY JAY IBAY

In the latest issue of Expat Newspaper, the Fil-foreign players that will backstop the men’s national basketball team, Smart Gilas, in the 2010 Asian Games were featured. In that bit, there was mention of naturalization candidate in American Marcus Douthit. And today, for fans of basketball all over the country, and specially for those united in their hopes of regaining wavering international basketball pride, have reason to celebrate as the House of Representatives voted in favor of Douthit’s citizenship, 212-9.

While adding the 6’10” former Los Angeles Lakers second round draft pick will definitely be a boost to the country’s hopes of earning a berth in the 2010 London Olympics, there are some who aren’t quite as jovial with the turn of events.

Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casino, who voted against the measure, felt that allowing naturalized players, more so in this seemingly fast-tracked manner, is a short-cut taken by the Philippine Sports Program. Gabriela Representative Luzviminda Ilagan hinted of caution, saying that the Congress’ granting of citizenship could set a “dangerous precedent” since Douthit’s nationalism has yet to be proven.

The Federation of International Basketball Associations’ (FIBA) definition of what could possibly constitute a national team is 11 natural-born players, and one naturalize players.

Douthit has been training with Smart Gilas since the early part of the year, and has been part of a number of tournaments. He has not only shown the ability to blend with his teammates during his time with the team, he has also shown great passion in playing for the Philippine colors.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) will now have to decide on who to drop from the 12-man roster originally submitted to the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC). The original roster includes Chris Tiu, Mark Barroca, Mac Baracael, JV Casio, Dylan Ababou, Japeth Aguilar, Jason Ballesteros and Aldrech Ramos, along with Fil-Tongan Asi Taulava and Fil-American Kelly Williams, both on loan from the pro league. Also allowed by his mother team from the pros for consideration is Fil-American Sol Mercado, who is almost a shoo-in to be included in the final team playing in the Asian games in China. Then there is also the possibility of Fil-American Chris Lutz, who has been part of many tournaments that Gilas has played in, will also be considered since he has recently gotten hold of his Philippine passport.

Last month, the POC was peeved at the SBP for waiting until the last minute to submit its final roster. The SBP, while guilty of not coordinating with the POC, was waiting on a few developments, which may have caused the delay. Presumably, they may have been hoping for Douthit’s naturalization, Lutz’ passport, and permission from the PBA to let Mercado play. And now that everything seems to have fallen in the SBP’s favor, it’s Gilas turn to return the favor by rewarding the country with a highly favorable showing, with London not a too far-fetched possibility.

Marcus will have to man the paint against much bigger RP foes

Just a glimpse of what Marcus brings to the table…

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