BOCAUE, Bulacan—(UPDATED) Chaos erupted at the Philippine Arena on Monday evening, as the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifier between Gilas Pilipinas and Australia devolved into a brawl.
The game was stopped for a prolonged period with 4:01 left in the third quarter after a melee that saw punches, kicks, and shoves exchanged from both sides.
Australia was well in control of the game at the time, with a 79-48 lead over the home team.
The melee appeared to have started when Australia’s Daniel Kickert got Roger Pogoy with a blindside hit, after both players had already been at each other’s throats for majority of the game.
It became a free-for-all from there, with Jayson Castro seen retaliating with a punch and Andray Blatche seen shoving an Australian player. Players from the Gilas bench got involved at that point, with Calvin Abueva, Matthew Wright, and Carl Bryan Cruz – all of whom were not fielded in – rushing the court.
Milwaukee’s Thon Maker, playing in only his second game for Australia, was seen aiming a kick at a few Gilas players, including Terrence Romeo. Wright appeared to have chased an Australian player all the way to the other end of the court and tagged him with a punch.
As of posting, the officials have yet to mete out sanctions. Referees were seen leaving the court, to review the incident at the OB (outside broadcasting) van. Replays of the incident were not being shown at the venue.
Meanwhile, the crowd at the Philippine Arena expressed its full support for the national team in the wake of the incident, chanting for Abueva and cheering for Pogoy, while also vociferously booing Australian players whenever they were shown on the big screen.
Chants of “Ginebra” and “Gilas, Gilas” also enveloped the arena, as the crowd did the wave while waiting for the officials’ decision.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President Al Panlilio appealed for calm in the wake of the melee.
“Hindi po kanais-nais ang nangyari,” said Panlilio, some 30 minutes after the brawl occurred. “I just want to appeal to everybody to please settle down. We didn’t want what happened to happen.”
“We are hosting this game, and this is basketball. We will wait for the referees for their decision, but please respect the game, and may our visitors feel safe in the arena,” he added.
“Let’s just enjoy the game, everybody calm down, and respect the decision that will come out from the review of the refs.”
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