PBA: What’s a ‘handicap system’, and why Guiao thinks Blatche, Douthit may fit it

Rey Joble

Posted at Jan 17 2022 11:07 PM

Naturalized players Andray Blatche and Marcus Douthit, who represented Gilas Pilipinas playing in major international basketball tournaments, have expressed their interest to see action in the PBA.

"I wanna come and play," posted Blatche, a former NBA player of the Brooklyn Nets and the Washington Wizards, on Twitter.

Douthit, Blatche's predecessor as the Philippines' naturalized player, followed the latter's tweet.

Unlike Blatche, who represented Gilas Pilipinas in the 2014 and 2019 FIBA World Cups, Douthit had played in the PBA several times.

Douthit was with the Rajko Toroman-coached Smart-Gilas Pilipinas team in the 2010-2011 Commissioner's Cup and the team went on to reach the semifinal round before losing to Barangay Ginebra in 4 games of their best-of-5 semifinals series.

In the 2012 Commissioner's Cup, the 6-foot-10 Douthit played as an import for the Air21 Express, who were booted early in the elimination round after winning only 3 of 9 games.

Douthit returned as import of Blackwater in the 2015 Commissioner's Cup, but his team also finished dead last in the elimination round with a 3-8 win-loss record.

Blatche, on the other hand, was being eyed as import of the NLEX Road Warriors 3 years ago, but wasn't allowed to play due to height limit restrictions.

Whether they play as locals or are given opportunity to see action as imports remains uncertain, but PBA chairman Ricky Vargas believes Douthit and Blatche should be given the opportunity to play in the league as a reward for serving the country.

But such an idea won't happen now and will have to wait in the near future.

Douthit is 41 years old, while Blatche is 35.

Yeng Guiao, who coached Blatche in the 2019 World Cup, believes they should be given a chance to play in the PBA for handicapping purposes.

"Puwede ’yun, if they'll be given an opportunity to reinforce lower-ranked teams and make these teams competitive," Guiao told ABS-CBN News.

Such an instance happened during the early years of the PBA when Billy Robinson, then playing for Mariwasa, was able to lead his squad to its first ever finals appearance, but lost to the mighty Crispa Redmanizers in the 1977 All-Filipino tournament.

The handicapping system was also used by the league to keep the competition more balanced.

In 1978, Robinson led another squad to the championship round of the All-Filipino, Filmanbank, which lost to the Toyota Tamaraws, in 4 games of the best-of-5 championship series.

Basketball historian Jay P. Mercado recalled Cisco Oliver playing for Carrier in the 1975 season and with Great Taste in 1978, both of them in the All-Filipino tournaments.

The PBA even used different variations of handicapping system and that played a big role in the championship victories of Royal Tru-Orange and U/Tex over Toyota in the 1979 and 1980 Open Conferences. 

Atty. Percival Flores, a long-time PBA fan, recalled that in the 1979 Open Conference, Royal was allowed to play Larry Pounds and Otto Moore at the same time while Toyota can only alternately use Bruce Sky King and Andy Fields.

The following season, U/Tex also used that same leverage, utilizing Glenn McDonald and Aaron James together on the floor against Toyota. 

"I remember that," recalled Guiao. "So for handicapping purposes, I'm OK in allowing Andray Blatche and Marcus Douthit to play in the PBA."

But once allowed to play as locals, will these imports accept the salary range of local players?

"That's something the PBA should work out," added Guiao. "Problema na siya ni PBA, pero for handicapping purposes, I think the PBA should find ways to allow these players to play, whether in an import-laced conference or the All-Filipino." 

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