GUANGZHOU—When officials of the Smart Gilas Pilipinas national team talk about Chinese Taipei, Marcus Douthit invariably comes to mind.
The national five takes on the Taiwanese today in a game that will most likely determine its quarterfinal seeding in the basketball competition of the 16th Asian Games.
But this time around, the Nationals will have to get past the sleek-shooting Taiwanese without the 6-foot-10 Douthit, who single-handedly carried Smart Gilas to a win during their Jones Cup encounter last July.
Douthit ruled the shaded area and erupted for 33 points as Smart Gilas pulled off a 96-93 win in overtime.
“He’s (Douthit) not here, so we have to make do with what we have,” said PH head coach Rajko Toroman.
Douthit’s application for naturalization was approved by Congress way past the deadline for submission of entries to
Toroman said Asi Taulava will take over Douthit’s slot with Kelly Williams and 7-footer Greg Slaughter as backup.
Toroman’s chief worry, however, is Chinese Taipei’s three-point shooters, who have been averaging 10 triples per game and almost carried the Taiwanese past the Qataris.
“This can be a very crucial game if Qatar splits its last two games against Japan and Iran,” said Toroman. “So we’re not going to take chances on this one.”
The ranking of Smart Gilas in the crossover quarterfinals will depend on the outcome of Qatar’s (2-1) last two games against Japan (3-0) last night and Iran (2-1) today.
Chinese Taipei (1-2) could still be in the hunt if it wins over Iran and Smart Gilas, which was playing India (0-3) at presstime.
If the Filipinos finish No. 4 in the group, they face the prospect of meeting defending champion China in the quarterfinals.
China (3-0) and South Korea (3-0) faced each other last night with the winner expected to top their group, which includes Jordan (2-1), Mongolia (1-2), Uzbekistan (0-3) and North Korea (0-3).
If Qatar loses against Japan and Iran, Smart Gilas could end up at No. 3 and seal a quarterfinal date with South Korea.
If the Qataris split their last two games, the Filipinos have to beat the Taiwanese to seal the third quarterfinal spot in Group F.