MANILA, Philippines – Australia's Thon Maker on Tuesday expressed his disappointment for his role in the shocking brawl that occurred between the Boomers and Gilas Pilipinas during a FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifier at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Punches and shoves were exchanged among Filipinos and Australians in the melee, which occurred with four minutes to go in the third quarter of the game on Monday night.
Plenty of attention was on Maker, the Milwaukee Bucks center who was playing in just his second international game for Australia. The 7-foot-1 big man was caught trying to hit Filipino players – notably Terrence Romeo – with a flying kick.
When the dust settled, he was one of four Australian players ejected from the game. Nine Gilas players were also thrown out; the game wrapped up with a minute and 57 seconds left in the third frame as the Boomers won by default, 89-53.
In a statement posted on Twitter, the 21-year-old Maker said he was "deeply disappointed in the actions displayed during yesterday's game against the Philippines."
"Being from a war-torn country, basketball for me has always been a means to bring people together," said Maker, who was born in South Sudan before making his way to Australia as a refugee when he was five-years old.
"I feel a great responsibility as an NBA player to carry myself in a way that promotes peace and unity," he added.
"I take responsibility for my actions, knowing that they were a result of my desire to protect my teammates and myself."
Maker also expressed his hope that the incident would "provide a springboard for discussion regarding the security surrounding these games."
It had taken a little over a minute before the security at Philippine Arena managed to separate the players and send them to their respective benches.
"It is a tremendous honor to represent Australia, the Milwaukee Bucks, and the NBA, and my goal is to reflect that in my conduct and play," Maker concluded.
Maker scored eight points in the game against the Philippines, which secured for Australia the top spot in Group B heading into the second round of the qualifiers.
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