Douthit for Blatche, Alapag for Castro
Marcus Douthit has been taken in to replace the ineligible Andray Blatche while Jimmy Alapag has reset his retirement from the national squad to sub for the injured Jayson Castro.
Philippine chef de mission Richie Garcia announced yesterday the two replacements in the Gilas Pilipinas lineup after the Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee (IAGOC) approved the country’s request during the final delegation registration meeting in Incheon, South Korea.
Douthit takes over from Blatche, the incredibly talented 6-foot-11 former Brooklyn Net in the NBA who was declared ineligible by the IAGOC for lack of residency in the Philippines.
Blatche was in the original lineup for the Asiad, based on his eligibility according to Fiba rules. The IAGOC turned it down, however, and upheld Olympic Council of Asia rules that require naturalized players to be residents for the past three years of the country they will represent in the Games.
Blatche, however, is expected to play in the next international events for the Philippines, including the Rio de Janeiro Olympic qualifier, set next year in China.
Alapag had earlier begged off from playing in the Asiad but after a great stint in the World Cup in Seville, Spain, he was asked to delay his retirement from international play. He will take the place of Castro, who has a bruised right knee.
“It is what it is. All we can do is keep on fighting,” said Gilas coach Chot Reyes, who had earlier predicted a winning campaign for the Asiad gold if Blatche gets clearance to play.
Blatche, who gave the Philippines a fearsome look in the World Cup, was supposed to plane into Manila today to attend practice that resumes tomorrow.
Douthit, in an earlier interview in Seville with Filipino reporters, had said that he was in top shape and raring to get a crack at the Asian Games gold.
In 2010, Douthit, who was part of the original Gilas Pilipinas program ran by Serbian coach Rajko Toroman, failed to suit up in the Games in Guangzhou, China, where the Filipinos finished sixth.
Douthit’s naturalization didn’t happen in time for the 2010 Games and the Philippines, laden with amateur Filipinos with foreign roots, led by Chris Lutz and Marcio Lassiter, and which was beefed up by former PBA MVPs Asi Taulava and Kelly Williams, finished sixth.
Douthit said he doesn’t expect to have problems getting into the groove since he has been playing with this group of Nationals for well over two years.
“I wanted a shot at the Fiba (World Cup), but it was out of my hands, you know what I mean,” Douthit said. “I’m in shape. I’ve been doing what they (World Cup players) have been doing ever since we started this (World Cup preparations).”
Earlier, Olympic Council of Asia director general Husain Al-Musalam wrote International Basketball Federation (Fiba) secretary general Patrick Baumann that the Asian body remained steadfast on following the eligibility rules as defined in its constitution.
Fiba, the international federation for basketball recognized by the International Olympic Committee, had earlier advised Oca, the organizer of the Asian Games, that Blatche is eligible to play since the former Brooklyn Net had already donned the Philippine colors in the world championship.
Al-Musalam said the Oca has been implementing the same set of guidelines since the 1986 Asian Games in Seoul, South Korea.
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