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Douthit keys Gilas' opening win vs Japan

MANILA, Philippines - Smart Gilas Pilipinas rolled to an 88-72 victory over Japan-Hamamatsu Phoenix as they kicked off their campaign in the fourth Asian Basketball Association Club Championship 2010 in Haining, China.

Marcus Douthit, eyed for naturalization in time for this year’s Asian Games in Guangzhou, dominated the paint and came through with 21 points while pulling down 13 rebounds to power the Nationals to the victory.

JV Casio also sizzled with 16 points and finished with five assists and three steals to help steer the Filipinos past the Phoenix side, who topped the Japanese BJ League last May.

“It’s a good start, hope the team could sustain its good showing,” said Smart Gilas manager Frankie Lim.

The Nationals grabbed an early 24-19 lead after the first quarter but the Japanese took charge at 38-37 at the break.

Douthit then took over and Casio dazzled the opposition with superb passing and ball-handling skills as Smart Gilas regained the lead at 62-55 heading to the fourth period.

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It was all-RP show from there as Smart Gilas never wavered and cruised to the victory despite the absence of a number of key players, including Fil-Am Marcio Lassiter.

Lassiter, the team’s best wing defender, is in the US with a knee injury.

Smart Gilas is also missing the services of Aldrech Ramos and JR Cawaling, who are still playing for Far Eastern U in the ongoing UAAP cage wars.

The Nationals also bid goodbye to Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Rey Guevarra and RJ Jazul, who have joined the pro ranks.

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