INCHEON, Korea–From two points, the country’s top sports officials yesterday assured that Marcus Douthit’s slot in the Philippines’ Gilas squad, as well as that of Jimmy Alapag’s, are secured.
The first assurance was made here by Chief of Mission Ricardo ‘Ritchie’ Garcia a day before the 17th edition of the Asian Games fire off.
Back in Manila, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Manny V. Pangilinan reiterated that there is no doubt on the eligibility of Douthit and the slot made for Alapag.
Garcia, also the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman, and Pangilinan, one of the country’s top business leaders who was recently named into the powerful Fiba (International Basketball Federation) Central Board, said no questions were raised on Douthit and Alapag’s eligibility.
Fears have been raised earlier that Gilas’ strong rivals would question Douthit and Alapag’s inclusion into the team when the Technical Meeting is held today prior to the opening ceremonies.
The Philippines is among the favorites to win the basketball gold medal, especially after Gilas Pilipinas, playing with Douthit as its naturalized entry, secured a runner-up finish in last year’s Fiba Asia Championship in Manila.
That strong finish gave the Philippines a ticket to the Fiba World Championship where Gilas notched a win over Senegal after close defeats to four other world caliber rivals.
Garcia said Douthit and Alapag have been officially listed in the team after a strong and respected Philippine party appealed before the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and the IAGOC (Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee) to secure the slots for Douthit and Alapag.
“Douthit is a legitimate inclusion to the team. He was not accepted as a replacement for Andray Blatche,” Garcia reiterated to clear questions on Douthit’s spot.
Blatche was deemed ineligible by the OCA and the IAGOC for failing to meet the three-year residency requirement for naturalized athletes.
It was Blatche who led Gilas Pilipinas in their World Championship campaign recently in Seville, Spain.
“The OCA accepted Douthit. He is officially a part of the Gilas Pilipinas,” Garcia said, adding: “The OCA accepted the Philippine position that Blatche was initially listed under the impression based on Fiba rules that he was qualified. But after the OCA acceptance of our position, nothing can change that anymore.”
Garcia was among the Philippine delegation which appealed in behalf of Douthit and Alapag during the delegation registration meeting last week.
Alapag, who announced his intent to retire from the national team after his Seville journey but was made to reconsider, was also accepted as a regular player and not as a replacement for a supposedly injured Jayson Castro.
Pangilinan also assured Douthit will be allowed to see action after he had secured a written authorization from the OCA.
Pangilinan stressed that further questions would be a “travesty of the Olympic ideals” after they were given the go-signal by OCA to field in Douthit in place of Blatche.
The substitutions were made formal during the delegation registration meeting last Sept. 11 and was strengthened by a written authorization by OCA.
“We have fully complied with all procedures and requirements making Marcus eligible and part of the 12-man roster,” Pangilinan posted on his official Twitter account.
“Hey, what they’re doing is a travesty of the Olympic ideals.”
The Philippine has yet to win an Asian Games gold medal since the Philippine Centennial Team claimed the bronze in the 1998 Bangkok Games. Four years ago in Guangzhou, the Nationals bombed out of the medal race and settled for a dismal sixth place.