BOCAUE, Bulacan—In a stunning turn of events, Gilas Pilipinas lost to Australia by default after an ugly brawl in the third quarter that left the Philippines with just three available players.
The FIBA World Cup Asian qualifying game between Gilas and Australia came to a premature end with 1:57 still left to play in the third quarter, and the Boomers well in control, 89-53.
At that point, point guard Baser Amer was the only player left on the court for the hosts at Philippine Arena here.
Nine Filipinos were thrown out following a melee that occurred with 4:01 left in the third quarter, the culmination of a tense contest that had been ill-tempered right from the very beginning.
Tempers already ran hot after the Philippines called out Australia for removing sponsors' decals on the court, though the visitors issued an apology right before tip-off.
However, even during the warm-ups there were already signs that the game was bound to be a tense affair, with players from opposing sides reportedly getting into each other’s nerves already.
Australia took control of the contest right from the opening tip, and used its hot shooting to build a big lead at the half, 52-37. The Boomers continued to pour it on in the third, with Chris Goulding in particular torching the Philippines from beyond the arc.
But the game took a dark turn from there, when Daniel Kickert pounced on Roger Pogoy with a blindside hit during a dead ball situation. The Philippine players were quick to retaliate: videos of the incident showed Jayson Castro catching an Australian with a punch, and Andray Blatche shoving an opponent as well.
Players on the bench quickly got involved, with Calvin Abueva, Matthew Wright and Carl Bryan Cruz among those who rushed to the court. Wright was seen chasing an Australian player all the way to the other end, and Abueva was seen taking a fighting stance against multiple Australian players.
It took a while before the melee was stopped, and the game was put on hold for more than 30 minutes as officials conferred with each other at the OB (outside broadcasting) van, where they reviewed the incident.
In the meantime, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President Al Panlilio pleaded for calm and assured that the game will continue.
However, when the referees’ decision was read, it became clear that there was no way that the Philippines would be able to finish the game. Tagged with disqualifying fouls were nine Gilas players: Terrence Romeo, Carl Bryan Cruz, Jayson Castro, Calvin Abueva, Andray Blatche, Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, Matthew Wright, and Japeth Aguilar.
Four Australian players were also thrown out: Nathan Sobey, Chris Goulding, Thon Maker, and Daniel Kickert.
That left the Philippines with just three players available: June Mar Fajardo, Gabe Norwood, and Baser Amer. They opted to continue the game, but the Filipino players quickly committed fouls to stop the action. At that point, Fajardo was already saddled with four fouls, and got his fifth with 2:26 to go. Norwood got his fifth foul with 1:57 left, signaling the end to the controversial contest.
The result gave Australia the lead in Group B at the end of the first round of the qualifiers, but more crucial at this point is the sanctions that may be handed out to both teams in the wake of the incident.
Blatche led the Philippines with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Fajardo had 10 markers in just 10 minutes.
Goulding finished with 20 points, and Kickert had 12 for the Boomers.
Australia led by as much as 37 points, 88-51, late in the lopsided game; the visitors shot a blistering 61.5% from the field and made 13 of their 26 three-pointers. They put on a clinic on ball movement, whipping the ball around the perimeter for open shots. In the end, the Boomers assisted on 24 of their 32 field goals.
In contrast, Gilas struggled against the taller, faster Aussies, making 20 of 50 shots from the field, including only five of 18 triples. They committed 18 turnovers that Australia translated to 26 points.
The Philippines finished the first round of the qualifiers with a 4-2 win-loss record, while Australia had a 5-1 win-loss slate.
Meanwhile, Japan took the last remaining slot to the second round of the qualifiers after demolishing Chinese-Taipei, 108-68, in the other Group B game.
AUSTRALIA 89 — Goulding 20, Kickert 12, Dellavedova 9, Brandt 8, Maker 8, Kay 7, Lisch 7, Sobey 7, Gliddon 6, Drmic 5, Cadee 0, McCarron 0.
PHILIPPINES 53 — Blatche 12, Fajardo 10, Castro 8, Aguilar 6, Romeo 6, Norwood 4, Pogoy 4, Amer 3, Abueva 0, Rosario 0, Wright 0.
Quarters: 23-18, 52-37, 89-53.
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