MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) Trouble is brewing with less than a day to go before the Philippines take on Australia in the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan tweeted late Sunday that some members of the Australian delegation had removed the logos from the court at the Philippine Arena, the venue for Monday’s game.
The video depicts four men removing the PLDT logo from the free throw line of one side of the basketball court. The PLDT logos, as well as those of Chooks-to-Go located near the baseline, were gone from the court on Sunday evening when both Australia and the Philippines held their final practices.
“Aussie team ripping our/FIBA logos on the court of the Philippine Arena without asking permission,” said Pangilinan in his tweet. “We will not back down. Those stickers go in. regardless.”
Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes, quoting Pangilinan’s tweet, stressed that the decals have been approved by FIBA.
According to Reyes, the Australians removed the decals because they were slippery. However, the coach maintained that the ad placements had already been approved by FIBA.
“Besides, we’ve played in other venues with similar decals,” the coach said. “Second, if – and that’s a big if – it indeed makes the floor slippery, they had no right to just rip the decals and deface our floor.”
“There were SBP/FIBA officials in the venue,” he pointed out.
The only remaining decal on the floor was that of electronics brand TCL, a global sponsor of FIBA. That decal was located at center court, just below the FIBA World Cup logo.
In a statement, Chooks-to-Go president Ronald Mascariñas expressed his disappointment at the actions of the Australian delegation, saying that they "not only disrespected the world organizing basketball body but also our home soil."
"'Yung Chinese-Taipei and Japan practiced and even played with those stickers on the floor. Nagreklamo ba sila?" Mascariñas said.
"I echo the sentiments of MVP and Chot. What they did was very disrespectful," he added.
Mascariñas pointed out that when the Philippines traveled to Australia back in February, the Filipinos were "well-mannered."
"We sent over officials from our company to Australia during our away game against them. They could say na ang players natin were respectful to them and their officials," recalled Mascariñas.
Aside from the Chooks-to-Go and PLDT decals, also removed were the Smart logos off the Philippine Arena court. The Australian coaching staff claimed that the decals were slippery and might cause injuries to their players.
However, all the stickers had been approved by FIBA ahead of the qualifiers. The same brand and quality of stickers had been used for the Philippines' home games against Chinese-Taipei at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last November, and against Japan at the Mall of Asia Arena in February.
As Mascariñas pointed out, there were no complaints from the visiting team then.
Meanwhile, Gilas Pilipinas team manager Butch Antonio told ESPN 5 that the Australian delegation had taken full responsibility for the removal of the decals.
"The method of what they did, in solving the problem or the issue, was wrong. They leave it to FIBA to decide on the matter," Antonio said, adding that the head of the Australian delegation had apologized for what happened.
SBP executive director Sonny Barrios has also informed website Spin that the decals will be re-applied to the Philippine Arena court.
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