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FIBA? Or just plain FEEBLE


THE infamous “Melee in Manila” went down 16 days ago, yet FIBA still has not revealed the findings of its investigations into the Philippines-Australia brawl. Are they effing kidding?

No-one expected a rapid-fire result out of basketball’s global governing body because it needed to be a reasoned and explicit series of fines, suspensions and life bans from the horrific outbreak of violence in Manila on July 2.

But come on now. It’s July 18, with more than two weeks under the bridge since we all witnessed those hideous scenes of malevolence, for the most part perpetrated by the hosts.

There’s been time for the Filipinos to try and subvert the narrative – O.J. Simpson would be proud – and even for some small measure of contrition, at least from one Philippines assistant coach for his rush of blood which led to striking a defenceless Chris Goulding in the head with a chair.

I am sure we all understand too that if FIBA was fair dinkum, it would be stripping the Philippines of their part-hosting rights to the 2023 World Cup and that such a decision also would require a lot of phone calls and emails to re-locate their portion of the tournament.

The FIBA Men’s World Cup of 2023 is being shared by Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia so the delay in releasing its findings would make some sense if FIBA was looking to shift the Philippines’ portion of the tournament to South Korea, for example.

Negotiations such as those take time.

But in more than two weeks, the best we’ve gotten out of FIBA so far is in a story by the Herald-Sun’s Gilbert Gardiner claiming all Australian players involved in the ugly melee “could be fined, including Melbourne United star Chris Goulding.”

Say what?

Goulding fined for what, being set upon by a dozen feral Filipinos given license by their coach’s inflammatory instructions to lose all measure of self-control?

For striking a chair with his head? For being a pinned-down, prone punching bag? For head and face-butting fists?

Now let’s be clear on this. Daniel Kickert striking Philippines guard Roger Pogoy AFTER Pogoy decked Goulding, was the spark that lit the fuse for the melee, no question.

(That is, of course, if you are happy to excuse Pogoy for passing the ball, then deliberately trying to hurt Goulding first, which many seem to be.)

In the AFL, Kickert would have received four weeks for a hit like that, especially given Pogoy lived to fight another day. (Actually, he lived to be fighting within seconds.)

Kickert probably should get four games for his hit, to be served in the NBL. (Suspending him from internationals is a nonsense because who knows if he would be selected again, or he could choose to not be available for selection.)

Australia’s other “active participant” in the melee was Thon Maker, who rushed in to Kickert’s aid as the ugly scene escalated.

Maker’s adrenaline-rush largely had him jumping about throwing wild kicks in the air. Not sure how many of those connected, but far less than the cheap shots he took from behind.

Being an NBA player – and the NBA wouldn’t recognise a FIBA suspension – Maker should cop a fine.

That’s where it should end for the Boomers.

Goulding was a victim. Nathan Sobey was punched, hit with a chair, then coward punched again while being restrained by a stadium official.

What should he be fined for, mangling a chair when it struck his head? Having a bruised face?

And Jason Cadee, the Boomers’ fifth player on the court, was at pains trying to restore order, calm players, put an end to this mad mayhem.

Why should he be fined?

Unlike their counterparts, who saw the third quarter keyway incidents as their “all bets are off” chance to get in some fisticuffs, the Aussie bench refused to clear, showing incredible restraint.

Incredible.

If assistant coach Luc Longley and manager Junior Albert take some FIBA heat for basically saving Goulding’s life, Basketball Australia should pick up that tab.

As for the Philippines, stripping them of their 2023 World Cup hosting duties would be the first in a raft of sanctions, fines and life bans FIBA should be issuing.

That assistant coach who struck Goulding with a chair? Sorry mate, that’s BS and your contrition days later is a nice touch, but you should be banned for life.

So too the official who threw the chair which struck Sobey and the official who coward punched the 36ers swingman. That coward punch in a city street, if captured on grainy CCTV, still would get that guy jail time. On crystal clear video footage and the photograph (below) which stunned the world? We don’t need characters like that in our sport, let alone our society.

The various Philippines players in the initial melee – Andray Blatche and Co – all need severe suspensions and the guys who leapt the hoarding to clear the bench and exacerbate the insanity? Fines and/or suspensions.

The Philippines coach who incited his volatile and already humiliated charges to “hit somebody. Put somebody on their arse”? (There’s a time and a place for that sort of coaching commentary to your team, and when there’s a powder keg waiting to explode, that isn’t the time or the place.) Between that comment and his post-game nonsense – since disproved by video evidence – that Kickert struck four of his players during the warmup … Chot Reyes should be spending a long time OUTSIDE basketball stadiums.

FIBA itself? It needs to take a good hard look at the culprit who assigned three overwhelmed referees to an international game which had the potential to be a blow-out and a blow-up at the same time.

You don’t put three ordinary referees who clearly were out of their depth even before throwing the ball up to start the fiasco, onto an international game. One to gain experience? Maybe. But three?

Someone inside FIBA needs a holiday too for that appalling decision.

But here’s the thing. Initially, FIBA taking its time and doing its due diligence was something worth defending.

After 16 days, all we can conclude is there will be a lot of rhetoric, a lot of spin but faced with the hard decisions, FIBA has again gone weak at the knees while hoping time has made the incident seem less dramatic.

And that is FIBA, living up to its real reputation as simply Feeble. No doubt it will be the Aussies taking it on the chin ... again.

Jul 18

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.