Stiff sanctions are expected to be handed out by FIBA, the world basketball federation, on the players involved in the “basketbrawl” that happened between Gilas Pilipinas and the Australian Boomers late Monday in the third quarter of their 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifier at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
FIBA said in a statement that it will open disciplinary proceedings against the Philippines and Australia following their bench-clearing incident.
SBP Chairman, Sen. Sonny Angara said they will be ready to accept the sanctions.
“In the heat of the moment, the players on both sides had to stand up for each other. It is not only a universal human reaction in a team sport, but for those who have played the game, looking after each other is part of the brotherhood among team members. But let me make this crystal clear: sanctions must be meted out, apologies extended as true sportsmen would, non-players who joined the melee should be punished, and above all, lessons learned so that this should not happen again,” said Angara.
Apologies have also been made from both camps, even as players from Gilas Pilipinas and the Australian Boomers voiced out their right defend teammates who get into trouble during games.
Filipino cager Terrence Romeo and Australian pro Thon Maker said this when they took to Twitter yesterday to justify their actions in the fracas.
Romeo, who plays for TNT Katropa in the Philippine Basketball Association, and Maker, who is with the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA, made their feelings known in the aftermath of their teams’ full-blown riot.
“Kahit anong sabihin niyo, naglalaro kami para sa isa’t isa, para sa kapwa natin, Pilipino higit sa lahat para sa bayan. Hindi niyo alam ang sacrifice namin. Kung para sa inyo mali tulungan namin ‘yung kakampi namin (na) sinasaktan, problema niyo na ‘yun basta kami walang iwanan tapos!!!,”wrote Romeo.
“I take responsibility for my actions, knowing that these were the results of my desire to protect my teammates and myself,” stated Maker, who was seen in slow motion leaping for a kick to Romeo but badly missed.
With 4:01 left in the third period of the game, Roger Pogoy went for a layup and collided with his defender Christopher James Goulding, who fell to the floor due to the impact. Tension escalated when the Australian’s teammate Daniel Kickert retaliated with a forearm to the Filipino’s face.
Gilas players, led by Andray Blatche and Jason Castro rushed to Pogoy’s aid, as players and coaching staff of the home team rushed into the court, either to join the fray or pacify those involved.
It was only after police, security guards, arena bouncers, and more officials were able to come in to stop team members from both sides from exchanging more blows.
A total of 13 players were tossed out in the game, four from the visiting team and nine from Gilas, leaving three Filipinos on the court, namely JuneMar Fajardo, Gabe Norwood and Baser Amer to carry the fight for the home team. But it looked to be a futile attempt and Fajardo and Norwood were forced to intentionally foul out, leaving Baser as the only Filipino on the court and forcing game officials to hand the win to the Boomers, who were ahead, 89-53, with seconds left third period.
Coach Chot Reyes said after the post-game huddle said tensions have been escalating right before the game.
“The reality was Kickert was hitting our players during the warmups. He hit Cruz, Wright, Pogoy, and Abueva during the warmups... And he was the one who came in and decked Pogoy,” said Reyes in citing what happened.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has sent its apology to Filipino basketball fans and to the basketball community for the incident.
“As hosts, we regret having breached the bounds of traditional Filipino hospitality. As the national team representing flag and country, we likewise extend our apologies to the Filipino people,” the SBP statement said.
On the other hand, Basketball Australia chief Anthony Moore said the Boomers have accepted responsibility for their part in a disturbing incident.
“We deeply regret the incident that occurred last night and our role in it. We don’t play the game in that spirit. While we accept responsibility for our role in last night’s incident, what we don’t accept is the actions whereby fans and officials actually get involved in the fray,” said Moore in a statement released to ABC News in Australia.
The match was supposed to determine the ranking of Australia and the Philippines in Group F in the second round. After the game, Australia has a 5-1 record in topping the group, followed by the PH with a 4-2 mark.