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Barring a revision in PBA rules, Douthit can only play as an import


The granting of Filipino citizenship to American Marcus Douthit has posed several questions on the basketball future of the 6-foot-11, former Los Angeles Lakers draftee in the Philippines, particularly when the Pilipinas-Smart Gilas program ends. Douthit’s application for naturalization lapsed into law last March 11. This was confirmed by Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda. “The Office of the President received House Bill No. 2307, which granted Filipino citizenship to Douthit last February 9, and the bill lapsed into law on March 11," said Lacierda.
For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV He said the President had earlier asked the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs to review the bill. But if Douthit pursues his playing career in the Philippines, questions are expected to be raised on whether or not he can play professional basketball in the country. Will he be allowed to play in the Philippine Basketball Association as a local player? Will he be given the same privilege as any other local player or can he only play as an import? Can he join the PBA Rookie Draft now that he’s a naturalized Filipino? “The PBA is a league open for all Filipino players with Filipino blood. In the case of Douthit, he is now a naturalized Filipino, but he has no Filipino blood, which means he cannot join the PBA Rookie Draft," said PBA commissioner Atty. Chito Salud. “This policy stays up to now, and unless the board changes the policy, Douthit cannot play as a local player in the PBA," added Salud. Douthit plays for guest team Pilipinas-Smart Gilas, which temporarily took over the spot vacated by Barako Bull. The Energy Boosters filed for a leave of absence in the ongoing PBA Commissioner’s Cup, and whether the team will return next conference or will be sold to Phoenix Petroleum remains to be seen. Salud also cited Kirk Long of Ateneo and former PBA import Alex Compton as examples. “Kirk Long has been in the country for quite sometime now and plays for Ateneo in the UAAP, but if you will ask me if he can play in the PBA or make himself eligible for the rookie draft, the answer is no because he has no Filipino blood," said Salud. “This is also the case for Compton, who cannot play as a local player, but then elected to play as an import instead." Basketball historians Percival Flores and Jay P. Mercado believe Douthit should be given the same opportunity as other local players, particularly now that the Pilipinas-Smart Gilas slotman has been granted Philippine citizenship. “As a Filipino, he’s now entitled to several privileges which are given to fellow Filipinos, including the right to vote and the right to acquire property, although he cannot run for public office," said Flores, a lawyer for a leading real estate company who regularly writes his insights in the online sports forum MYPBA.com. “He can also exercise his right to join the draft if he wants to pursue a career in the PBA. Remember, he’s now a Filipino for all intents and purposes, and any move to ban him would be discriminatory." Mercado, who in turn writes for the sports forums Pinoy Exchange and Interbaket, also said that private companies or associations such as the PBA, which have existing laws of their own, will have to defer to Philippine law. “There’s no greater law than the one which was passed by Congress and the Senate, went up for the signature of the President and then lapsed into law. Although the PBA has its existing rules, I believe Philippine laws are greater than the existing laws of any association, the PBA in particular," said Mercado, also a business development manager of a well-known fast-food chain. Mercado added that swimmer Christine Jacob and basketball players Jeff Moore, Dennis Still, Chip Engelland, Ricardo Brown and Willie Pearson were also granted Philippine citizenship via a presidential decree in the time of former president Ferdinand Marcos.
Marcus Douthit: A Pinoy who can only play as import in the PBA.
"Brown and Pearson were the only players who pursued their careers in the PBA, while Moore, Still and Engelland opted not to continue. But we have to remember, the league still had no annual Rookie Draft at that time, and the existing policy being implemented now on naturalized players had yet to take effect at that time," added Mercado. But Salud said the PBA, being an association, has its own set of existing rules. “We have to remember that the PBA is an association, and just like a golf club and any regular association, it can decide which player can play or which company can join," said Salud. The second-generation commissioner also stated that Douthit can play as an import as long as he is qualified. PBA greats like Norman Black and Bobby Parks, who stayed in the country and married Filipinas, became naturalized Filipinos, but still continued to play as imports. - KY, Rey Joble, GMA News