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Melee in Manila: FIBA, welfare, Times latest

BASKETBALL Australia was “ahead of the game” arranging counselling for its travelling troupe that suffered the brunt of Monday’s ‘Melee in Manila’ at the hands of the rabid Filipino players, staff and fans.

The wild scenes which erupted after Daniel Kickert’s excessive retaliation to a hit by notorious Philippines guard Roger Pogoy on Chris Goulding are now under investigation by FIBA, the sport’s global governing body.

BA now has received notice from FIBA of disciplinary proceedings from the disgraceful ending to Australia’s 89-53 World Cup Qualifier win over the Philippines.

The match ended in farce when, long after order was restored, nine Filipino and four Boomers players were disqualified from the game, which left the hosts with three players.

Two quickly fouled out to end the fiasco and a night that will forever remain a blight on international basketball.

“FIBA has established a Disciplinary Panel to hear charges against the Boomers arising from the game in Manila,” BA said in a statement.

“FIBA has placed confidentiality conditions on the details of the charges which prevents their public disclosure.”

BA chief executive Anthony Moore (below) said it would respond to the charges ahead of a determination by the Panel.

“Out of respect for the process established by FIBA, Basketball Australia and our players will not make any further comment at this stage,” he said.

Goulding, who, after being knocked to the ground was set upon by upto a dozen players and officials, and struck by the Philippines’ assistant coach with a chair, yesterday told the Sunrise morning TV show he felt fine “physically”.

The emotional scars, however, are far more worrying.

“Both Basketball Australia and the ABA (Australian Basketballers Association) have already arranged welfare support for the players and the coaches,” Moore assured last night.

“We had this in train once the team was in the air out of Manila.”

Meanwhile, it appears "The Manila Times" is among the first to come to its senses over Monday night's shocking scenes, with this Editorial:



WHAT was supposed to be a source of national pride has become a source of national embarrassment. Monday night’s basketball game between the Philippines and Australia, a FIBA World Cup qualifier match, ended in a melee that practically cleared the benches of both teams.

The brawl was said to have been triggered by the offensive foul of Gilas Pilipinas’ Roger Pogoy on Christopher James Goulding of the Australia Boomers in the third quarter.

Daniel Kickert of the Boomers then decked Pogoy, as clearly shown by video quickly uploaded to the web. This prompted Andray Blatche and most of the Gilas bench to retaliate, leading to a free-for-all. Jayson Castro was seen throwing a punch while Australian big man Thon Maker hit Terrence Romeo with a flying kick.

In the end, 13 players (nine of them from the Gilas national team) were ejected from the court of the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

The third quarter resumed with just three Filipino players against five Australians on court. Australia, already way ahead by 31 points prior to the brawl, was declared winner by default, 89-53, when Gilas was left with only Baser Amer after June Mar Fajardo and Gabe Norwood were fouled out.

Many on the Gilas side, including patrons and fans, have become overzealous and overprotective to the point of rationalizing the farce that was Philippines vs Australia.

Coach Vincent “Chot” Reyes blamed the referees and claimed Kickert had elbowed four Gilas players during warm-up sessions.

He also pointed to tensions created by Australia’s unilateral decision to peel off decals of Gilas sponsors at the Philippine Arena, purportedly over safety issues.

On Twitter, Romeo dismissed critics and said that what mattered was Gilas team members watching each other’s backs.

The Manila Times will not hesitate to call the Philippine team’s behavior for what it is: shameful.

There is no real excuse for un-sportsmanlike behavior, even if the opponent is playing dirty. The fact that nine of the 13 players ejected were from Gilas only showed that majority of the team was willing to come to blows to settle disputes in utter disregard of the rulebook.

But basketball is a team sport heavily governed by rules. Violence in the name of watching each other’s backs is not team spirit; it’s hooliganism, the kind that triggers unruly behavior among fans. Plastic bottles in fact rained on the Philippine Arena.

What’s more regrettable is that assistant coach Jong Uichico was also accused of joining the fracas, allegedly hitting an Australian player with a chair and landing several blows on Goulding.

Good thing Uichico was among the first (if not the first) in Gilas to apologize, admitting that his actions got the better of him and offering no excuses. “This is a painful but maybe necessary lesson for me,” he tweeted.

That FIBA game exposed the worst among Filipino sports fans, players and officials, ironically in a hosting stint wherein Filipinos are supposed to showcase their best. After the game, some in the Gilas team acted as if nothing happened, and happily snapped selfies.

Gilas fans, supporters and team members ought to take their cue from Uichico and take this sorry episode exactly as what he has described it, a painful but necessary lesson.

Jul 6

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