MANILA, Philippines – Naturalized Filipino center Marcus Douthit is now healthy after undergoing rehab for the calf muscle that he injured during last year’s FIBA Asia Championship, and is eager to lead Gilas Pilipinas to the FIBA Asia Cup in Wuhan later this month.
In a recent interview with the FIBA Asia website, Douthit opened up on returning to Wuhan, where he helped lead Gilas to the semi-finals of the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship. [http://www.fibaasia.net/InterviewDetails.aspx?id=367]
“Wuhan brings back a lot of memories, good and bad,” said Douthit. “The good is that I played great during that tournament, where I thought I should have made the all-tournament team, but I didn’t.”
Douthit led all players in scoring and rebounding in the tournament, with averages of 21.9 points and 12.2 rebounds over nine games.
“And the fact that we had that big loss to Korea (in the bronze medal game) where I felt we dominated the whole game up to the last five minutes in the fourth quarter,” Douthit added. “But that’s basketball.”
It was a heartbreaking tournament for the Filipinos, who made it to the semi-final but lost to Jordan. They then lost to Korea in the bronze-medal game, 70-68.
Gilas recovered by winning the silver medal in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship and booking a trip to the World Cup in Spain.
“This is a big step in the right direction not just for Gilas, but the country,” Douthit said of their trip to Spain in August. “We did a lot of hard work last year to prepare ourselves for the qualifying.”
Gilas head coach Chot Reyes has warned, however, that there are virtually no expectations for the national team when they play in Wuhan, as they will use the tournament merely to reacquaint themselves with the grind of international basketball.
The tournament will also be interesting for Gilas and Douthit as they will face their former coach, Rajko Toroman, who now helms Jordan, in the FIBA Asia Cup.
“I am excited to see Coach Toroman back doing what he loves,” said Douthit. “It’s a bit tough though, because I will be going up against him. I can never thank him enough for helping me and my career as a player.”
“And as a man, he is definitely a great man and coach in my eyes. I can’t wait to go up against him and his team. It will definitely be tough because he knows me and my game in and out,” he added.
Although Douthit is finally healthy after rehab -- “Now, my body feels great,” he said -- he admits that he is not quite in game shape yet.
“(I am) a little sluggish from not playing, but I’m sure it will take no time for me to get back to where my team needs me to be,” he said.