Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Is Douthit a local or import?

Posted by chardyboy on Wednesday, March 23, 2011 0 comments

source: By Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star)

Easily, the most dominating player in the ongoing PBA Commissioner’s Cup is 6-10 center Marcus Douthit of Smart Gilas but is he eligible for the Best Player of the Conference award?
Is Douthit a local or an import? A few days ago, he was legally proclaimed a naturalized citizen, gaining eligibility to play for the national team under FIBA rules. Douthit is now able to travel anywhere in the world with a Filipino passport.

But under PBA rules, a naturalized citizen may not play as a local. Douthit, therefore, is not eligible to play in the All-Filipino conference – unless Smart Gilas is allowed to compete with a full lineup. It’s a different story with Fil-foreigners because they have Filipino lineage.

Fil-foreigners are classified as locals provided they are certified by the Bureau of Immigration and confirmed by the Department of Justice as dual citizens.

If Douthit isn’t a local, is he an import? In the Commissioner’s Cup, the height limit for an import is 6-4. Douthit stands at least 6-10 and obviously, he’s way above the limit for an import. That means he’s not qualified as an import. But alas, he’s not a local either. Poor Douthit is in a class of his own.

PBA media bureau chief and special assistant to the commissioner Willie Marcial said the other day unless the commissioner or Board of Governors declares otherwise, Douthit is not eligible to receive the Best Player of the Conference award, much less the Best Import award.

“That’s because Smart Gilas is a guest team, not a regular PBA member,” explainedMarcial. “When Northern Consolidated won the Reinforced conference in 1985, none of the players was eligible for awards. That’s the precedent.”

In 1985, Northern played with three naturalized players Jeff Moore, Chip Engelland and Dennis Still. They weren’t considered imports. In fact, for the Reinfored conference, the Best Import award went to Ginebra San Miguel’s Michael Hackett. There was no Best Player of the Conference award which was instituted only in 1994.

But none of the Northern cagers was named to the mythical first and second teams even if several of coach Ron Jacobs’ mainstays deserved the citation – including Hector Calma, Samboy Lim and Allan Caidic. The reason why the Northern players were not recognized was because they played for a guest squad.

But things are different now. The PBA has rolled out the red carpet for Smart Gilas which is trying to bring the Philippines back to Olympic basketball for the first time since 1972. Commissioner Chito Salud has extended an “open invitation” for Smart Gilas to play up to the third conference and the Board has ruled that coach Rajko Toroman’s squad is eligible to vie for the championship. If the red carpet is laid out, why not roll it all the way and allow Douthit to contend for Best Player honors?

Here’s an interesting quirk. Even as Douthit can’t be considered an import because he’s over the height limit, his stats are listed in the league’s official statistical rankings for imports. He’s averaging 21.8 points and 19.4 rebounds in five games so far. Douthit ranks No. 1 in field goal percentage at .561, No. 1 in blocked shots (3.2 a game) and No. 1 in rebounding. There’s no question he’s a major reason why Smart Gilas is the league’s only unbeaten team.

Douthit, 30, was the Los Angeles Lakers’ second round pick in the 2004 NBA draft. He played with the Providence College varsity for four years and nearly made it to the Los Angeles Clippers roster in 2007-08.

Whoever is recognized as Best Player or Best Import of the Conference will not be as dominant a contributor on the floor as Douthit, that’s for sure. To give credit where it’s due, Douthit should be considered a contender for individual honors because his stats are too glaring to overlook. It’s just not fair for Douthit to play his best on the floor and he’s not given recognition for his efforts. Not that he’s looking for recognition.

Toroman’s system is anchored on team play and frowns on individualism. But still, if Douthit deserves to receive the Best Player or Best Import award, then, the recognition shouldn’t be taken away from him particularly as he chose to be a naturalized citizen – which distinguishes him from imports like Nate Brumfield or Paul Harris or Champ Oguchi.

Is it fair to rate Douthit alongside James Yap or Gary David or L. A. Tenorio or Jay Washington? It’s not Douthit’s fault that he’s 6-10 and an imposing inside presence. He shouldn’t be blamed for playing head and shoulders above everyone else. My opinion is it’s unfair to Douthit if he isn’t rated alongside the league’s best players, local or import.

An argument may be raised that the Best Player award should be given only to bona fide PBA players. But the argument is negated by the fact that Smart Gilas is eligible to win a PBA championship. If Smart Gilas played only as a guest team with no bearing in the standings, then, surely, its players wouldn’t be considered for any honors.

Smart Gilas is playing in the Commissioner’s Cup in place of Barako Bull which has taken a leave of absence to give way to the national team’s participation. Marcial said under the circumstances, Smart Gilas’ showing in the second conference will not be considered as a basis to determine the order of draft for Barako Bull or the entity that buys its franchise in August. In the same vein, the showing will not be a basis to determine the import limit for Barako Bull or the entity that buys its franchise in the third conference.

“Because Barako Bull ended up last in the Philippine Cup, it will be allowed to play a 6-6 import in the third conference,” said Marcial. “That right will be passed on to the team that buys its franchise assuming there is a sale before the third conference.”


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