MANILA, Philippines – Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and the Philippine national basketball team are now awaiting the decision of FIBA after their involvement in the bench-clearing brawl against Australia during a FIBA World Cup Asian qualifier.
Nine Gilas players and four Australians were tagged with disqualifying fouls in the wake of the melee, which occurred with four minutes to go in the third quarter.
That left the Philippines with just three players; the game was stopped with 1:57 to go and Australia on top, 89-53, after June Mar Fajardo and Gabe Norwood both fouled out, thus leaving Baser Amer as the lone Filipino left.
SBP vice-chairman Robbie Puno noted that all three of these players were still on the court during the fracas, but did not throw any punches and so were not ejected.
“But are there repercussions for later on? As far as we know, FIBA doesn’t do that,” said Puno after the event. “They’ll throw you out for the game, but there are no suspensions that we know of that happens with FIBA.”
“So in that sense, we probably dodged a bullet,” he added. “We’re not looking at suspensions, we don’t expect to see suspensions.”
FIBA has already announced that it has opened disciplinary proceedings against both the Philippines and Australia for the brawl, which has since become a global talking point.
Australia has already apologized for its role in the unfortunate incident and said that it will await whatever penalties will be handed out.
Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes says that whatever the consequences may be, the team will just have to face them.
“It’s up to FIBA in the end,” said Reyes.
However, Reyes also maintained that his players were just defending themselves from the antics of the Boomers, particularly Daniel Kickert who was allegedly shoving Gilas players even during the warm-ups.
Indeed, it was an elbow by Kickert to Roger Pogoy – after Pogoy committed a hard foul on Australia’s Chris Goulding – that wound up triggering the entire fracas.
“The one thing they have to know about this team is that we’re not going to back down,” Reyes said. “We already restrained the players before the game. We already told them, ‘Huwag niyo ng pansinin’ when Kickert did all those things at the start, during the warm-ups.”
“We already told them, ‘Huwag niyo ng pansinin, focus on the game,’ But you know, after that, when he did that in the third quarter, it’s hard to restrain them anymore,” he added.
Puno further pointed out that the tensions started over the weekend, when Australia “disrespected our courts and started pulling out the decals of our sponsors.”
“They had absolutely no right to do that,” he said. “No. 12 (Kickert), at the very start of the warm-up, he pushed Matthew Wright. No. 4 (Chris Goulding) was taunting every foul shooter that we had, and the referees simply did not control (the game).”
For Puno, it was clear that the Australians made “an attempt to disrespect” the Philippines, starting from their removal of the decals all the way to their actions in the pre-game.
“I think we stood our ground, and I think I'm proud of the Gilas Pilipinas boys for standing their ground, fighting for the Filipino people,” he said. “But of course, it's an unfortunate incident, we don't want these things to happen. It's a little bit of an embarrassment I guess, but we stand together.”
“This was a bad situation that I think we can only hope to get some good out of it, and say that we showed ourselves as a united team, a team that fights together, and doesn't back down from anyone. So let that be a lesson to everybody else.”
FIBA is expected to come out with a decision in the coming days.
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