August 28, 2013 2:51 PM EST
Days after Douthit: Who will be the Philippines' next Naturalized Player?
During the FIBA Asia 2013 game against South Korea, naturalized center Marcus Douthit limped off in the second quarter with a bruised calf muscle. The injury only exposed the vulnerability of the Philippines at the post, as only two legitimate big men -- 6'10" beanpole Japeth Aguilar and 6'11" youngster June Mar Fajardo -- were left to battle Iran's fleet of slotmen in the final game, where Hamed Haddadi dominated.
Philippine coach Chot Reyes has been adamant about bringing Douthit to Spain for the FIBA World Cup, as the 6'11" center still has some gas left in his tank. However, there have been talks about securing the services of another foreign-born player in case Douthit does not pan out. Here are some prospects that have made Filipino basketball fans giddy with anticipation.
Michael Dunigan (6'10")
At 24 years old, the Oregon product has a full career ahead of him. Dunigan is no stranger to the Philippine game, having played for the PBA's Air21 Express in 2013. He averaged 23.9 points, 15.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.4 blocks in fifteen PBA games. At present, he is making his mark as a member of the Miami Heat's NBA Summer League roster, where he averages 9.8 points and 1.5 blocks.
Denzel Bowles (6'10")
The 24-year-old Bowles is already a veteran in the international scene, having played in Lithuania and in the PBA's San Mig Coffee Mixers and B-Meg Llamados. In 2012, Bowles led B-Meg to a championship, scoring 39 points including the free throws that sealed the victory. He was also part of the 2012 New Orleans Hornets Summer League team and was named a Mid-Major All-American as a senior for James Madison.
Robert Dozier (6'9")
The 6'9" Dozier is also a PBA veteran, having won a championship with the Alaska Aces. Prior to his stint in the Philippines, the Miami Heat 2009 second-round pick also played in Greece, France, and Spain. He was also part of the University of Memphis team that made it to the 2008 NCAA final against Kansas, along with Derrick Rose. He is set to return to the Philippines in the 2013-2014 season to defend the title he won with Alaska. However, Dozier might prove to be undersized, forcing the Philippines to elevate one more big man from the professional or amateur ranks.
Matt Kyle (6'11")
The 2008 Yale graduate has played professionally overseas, including Portugal and Japan. While his college averages in the Ivy League school have been pedestrian, he has shown trememndous improvement and maturity, and his body has filled out quite nicely. As a center with the Toyama Grouses of Japan's BJ-League, he averaged 8.5 points and 6.4 rebounds and showed remarkable ability on the fastbreak. Naturalizing Kyle will also prove to be easy as his fiancee is Filipina and he is reportedly visiting the Philippines later this year.
JaVale McGee (7'0")
The five-year NBA veteran is very high on every fan's wish list. In 2012, McGee was all set to acquire Filipino citizenship, but the legislative procedure failed to push through owing to steep insurance costs. With a chance to make an impact on the World Cup stage, the Philippine basketball federation might just make another effort to land the long-armed Denver Nuggets star, where he will get to play against the likes of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. One thing that works against McGee is his lack of maturity, but with age comes wisdom, and Filipino fans can't wait to see the beast unleashed.