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ABA steps up in Mitchell case

THE Australian Basketballers Association has stepped in on behalf of suspended Cairns Taipans import Tony Mitchell who yesterday was given a year-long ban by the NBL Tribunal.

Tribunal chairman Tony Nolan QC issued a full season suspension after Mitchell was found guilty of "striking a referee", namely Vaughan Mayberry who he struck with the game ball after the siren ended Cairns' season in Perth on Monday.

Mitchell took the ball from a Perth player to throw it at Mayberry and while the league's Referee of the Year was unhurt, the action was adjudicated to have been quite deliberate.

While the ban applies to the 2017-18 NBL season, Nolan also directed that the information regarding the penalty be provided to Basketball Australia, FIBA and the NBA.

It potentially means the ban could be enacted internationally as the Taipans, who brought in Mitchell as a late replacement for Fuquan Edwin, were not intending to retain his services.

"The ABA respects the right of all referees to be free from physical and verbal abuse, and the actions of Tony Mitchell are not condoned," ABA chief executive officer Jacob Holmes said in a statement today.

"However we believe the penalty imposed is disproportionate to the action, which would result in the potential for Tony to be ruled out of any basketball game for an entire season, including the potential for this penalty to be applied in leagues outside of Australia.

"A request for a 24-hour time extension to enable Tony to consider appeal options in relation to this decision has been approved, as he is currently in transit back to the US.

"The ABA will continue to liaise with Tony, his agent, the club and the NBL on the matter."

Mitchell did not attend the hearing but was represented by the Taipans.

No word yet on whether the ABA plans to assist Perth forward Matt Knight with his "letter of apology" for his similarly heinous act of striking Cairns import Travis Trice with the ball late in the same game.

MITCHELL DUNK: Tony Mitchell throws one down against the Wildcats. We won't be seeing that live again.

Feb 25

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