Amid the commotion and fuss over the formation of the latest Gilas Pilipinas team that will compete for the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, one former Gilas member moved quietly away from the spotlight.
Last week, Marcus Douthit confirmed that he will no longer suit up for the Philippines once his contract ends in September.
Of course, you could point out that we don’t exactly need Douthit’s services moving forward. We have naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche, who competed for the Philippines in the 2014 World Cup and we even have Fil-Am Moala Tautaa waiting should Blatche be unavailable in some tournaments.
At 35, Douthit’s game has obviously showed signs of decline. He doesn’t score or rebound like he used to back in the day. Aside from battling Father Time, Douthit also had to fend off nagging injuries. The cold hard truth is that we don’t need Marcus Douthit wearing a Gilas Pilipinas jersey anymore. His time has passed and we want to move on.
Winning silver in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship and getting back in the World Cup in 2014 has made the Philippines hungrier for international basketball than it has ever been. Our performance in the last two years made us realize that if given a chance, we can shock the world. Those Gilas teams gave us a sense of accomplishment and raised the possibility that we do become more. At the same time however, the euphoria of the past two years may have also given us a sense of entitlement.
We want Gilas Pilipinas. We want our best players fighting against the best the world has to offer. We want at the very least, to dominate basketball in Asia. We want to prove to teams like USA, Spain, and Argentina that we do deserve a spot in the World Cup. We want more, more, and more.
This is why most Filipino basketball fans got hurt upon hearing a couple of former Gilas players begged off from the program. They all had various reasons, and nobody can really do anything about it.
This is also why our hearts got crushed when the Philippines lost the World Cup bid to China a couple of weeks back. We know what we are a basketball nation and we’re just waiting for a chance to prove ourselves once again.
This is also why we sadly don’t see Kuya Marcus as a necessity anymore.
It’s true that we no longer need him, but his services for the last five years for the Gilas Pilipinas program represents a time when Philippine basketball was on the rise.
Before the fanfare, hoopla, and the #PUSO, we had Marcus Douthit. He wasn’t the most athletic big man and surely he wasn’t the most dominant, but we loved him nonetheless. He’s not an ex-NBA player like Blatche, but he was skillful enough to wage wars with the best Asian centers. He’s not even the best import this country has ever seen, but he represented the Philippines in international competition better than we could have ever imagined. When he was playing, Douthit didn’t make us feel too anxious or worried. Sure, he wasn’t spectacular either, but he was good – really good.
No matter what happens to Gilas Pilipinas in the future, we will always remember what Marcus Douthit did for us in all his years playing for our country. If the Philippines continue to step up its game in international competitions, then that’s great. If all goes south for us and 2013 and 2014 remain our best years in recent memory, then so be it. At least Douthit and the rest of those teams gave us a glimpse of the potential of Philippine basketball.
Since his addition to Gilas, Douthit has helped us win a bronze and a gold medal in the William Jones Cup, two gold medals in the South East Asian games, two SEABA championships, a bronze finish in last year’s FIBA Asia Cup, and of course a silver medal finish back in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship. We asked an American to represent our country and he generously helped us realize that we can rise above expectations. Douthit helped pave the way for all of the Gilas Pilipinas teams in the future.
As the formation of Gilas III is about to be complete, we are reminded of what it takes to compete in FIBA. We know that we have to send a competitive team come tournament time. The crazy thing here is that if for some strange circumstance arises and we would need Douthit’s services once again, we can call him up. He would still put on the blue and white jersey for us even if he’s as old as Asi Taulava.
His retirement from the Gilas Pilipinas is similar to how we shocked the world in 2013 against South Korea. In that game, he was sidelined due to injury and we had to rely on ourselves to carry us over the hump. It was our battle to win. It was kind of fitting that he led us to to that point, while Jimmy Alapag and the rest of the locals were the ones who beat Korea. In the upcoming 2015 FIBA Asia Championship we won’t have Douthit anymore, and again, it will be our battle to win.
His exit from the national team signifies an end of an era for Philippine basketball. We’re clearly not the same team or even the same nation from five years ago. Back then, we didn’t know what we could become as a people who simply loved the game, and we weren’t sure how we could go back to the world stage.
We’re passionate right now of what’s going on with Gilas and that’s thanks largely to Douthit. The fact is, we don’t want to settle anymore. We don’t just want a bronze medal in Asia or even just one win in the World Cup. We want to show that we’re not just a nation crazy about basketball, but we’re also a nation crazy about winning. In the same way, we’re not content with just hosting the FIBA Asia Championship anymore, we want to host the World Cup.
We want more because Douthit helped us grasp the reality that not only do we want bigger things for Philippine basketball, but we actually deserve more.
In the tweet confirming that it was the end of his Gilas stint, Douthit knew his time had passed playing for our flag. He could have demanded more but he knew better. He had a good run and we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Marcus Douthit is longer part of Gilas Pilipinas but this might be only the beginning of great things for Philippine basketball. Whatever happens in the upcoming FIBA Asia Championship or even the World Cup in 2019, we always remember what Douthit did for us. More than the podium finishes and medals, he taught us how to win. He helped us dream bigger than we’ve ever dreamed before.
And for that we will always be grateful to Kuya Marcus.