Philippines row rumbles as fans defend Douthit
INCHEON, South Korea – The Philippines lost a basketball thriller, 97-95, Saturday, September 27, to leave their Asian Games medal hopes hanging by a thread, but the big talking point was the benching of naturalized center Marcus Douthit.
Gilas Pilipinas fought tooth and nail to include Douthit in their squad as a replacement for another import, Andray Blatche, who was ruled ineligible before the Asiad.
Fans were baffled to see 6-foot-11 Douthit sitting alone on the bench, in full kit, for the entire match at the Samsan World Gymnasium in Incheon.
Head coach Chot Reyes said it was "for disciplinary reasons."
Douthit cut a forlorn figure, rising only to join team talks at every timeout and then returning to keep the bench warm as the Philippines lost a heartbreaker after leading by 16 points at one stage.
Reyes had not hidden his fury with Douthit Friday after his lackluster display in the shock defeat against Qatar.
"We're all disappointed at Marcus," Reyes told reporters.
"Our big guy, the man we rely on in the middle, just quit on our team. That's very un-Filipino. I'm very disappointed with that.
"I don't think it was an issue of fatigue. I think it was more of an issue of desire. I'm going to ask Marcus if he doesn't want to play we'll go all-Filipino.
"If he wants to go home he can go home," a furious Reyes added.
"I don't know what happened. Towards the end of the first half, he was at the dugout watching a music video.
"He was the last to leave the dugout. He had a very bad body language. And Qatar pounced on him," Reyes added.
The coach confirmed after Saturday's defeat that Douthit had been left out as a punishment and that it was for one game only "but we will have to talk about that tonight."
Reyes is well known for his confrontational coaching style, believing harsh criticism can motivate players.
In the basketball-mad Philippines, many fans believe Reyes went too far at a crucial time of the tournament and leapt to Douthit's defense.
"Unacceptable behavior from Chot Reyes blaming Douthit," tweeted one fan Max Tan. Another, Francis Bilog said: "I feel for Douthit...yeah he may have been moving slow in this game, but calling him out and throwing him under the bus is unnecessary."
"Marcus deserves better than this," wrote Ryan Songalia of popular news website Rappler. – Rappler.com