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FIBA cracks whip

BY Jonas Terrado

Ten players and two coaches of Gilas Pilipinas were suspended by world governing body FIBA yesterday for their roles in a brawl with Australia in the World Cup Qualifiers held last July 2 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

The players banned for a specific number of games were Calvin Abueva (six games), Roger Pogoy, Carl Bryan Cruz and Jio Jalalon (five games each), Terrence Romeo, Jayson Castro, Andray Blatche and Troy Rosario (three games each) and Japeth Aguilar and Matthew Wright (one game each).

Gilas assistant Jong Uichico was suspended three games while coach Chot Reyes got a one-game suspension plus a fine of 10,000 swiss francs (P534,000) for inciting unsportsmanlike behavior.

FIBA also asked the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) to pay 250,000 swiss francs (P13.4 million) for “unsportsmanlike behavior of its delegation members and of its public, as well as for insufficient organization of the game.”

Gilas Pilipinas was also forced to play its next home game behind closed doors “while a ban for two more home games has been placed under a probationary period of three years,” FIBA added.

Australia’s Daniel Kickert was banned five games, NBA player Thon Maker three games and Chris Goulding one game.

Basketball Australia, SBP’s counterpart, was fined 100,000 swiss francs (P5.3 million) for unsportsmanlike behavior and for removing the court decals on the eve of the match.

Referees Ahmed Al Bulushi of Oman, Hatim Alharbi of Saudi Arabia and Paul Skayem of Lebanon were also removed from the FIBA Elite Program and will be removed from nomination from any FIBA competitions for one year.

“FIBA wishes to emphasize that it condemns any form of violence, both on and off the court,” FIBA said in a press release. “Respect, sportsmanship and professionalism are expected from players, coaches, officials and all other stakeholders at every game.

“Moreover, host countries must ensure the highest standards of organizational conditions are in place to guarantee the safety and well-being of players and other participants at all times,” FIBA added.

A consolation of sorts for the Philippines is that the suspensions won’t affect their campaign for the mother clubs in the PBA, or in Blatche’s case with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association.

PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial had earlier said that he and the SBP will appeal had the suspensions included their players’ pro league commitments.

The brawl occurred with 4:01 left in the third quarter of the World Cup Qualifiers game when Kickert elbowed Pogoy in retaliation to the Gilas player’s hit on Goulding.

That prompted Gilas players to clear the bench and join the fray. Castro, Blatche, Cruz and Abueva were seen taking part in the fight while the usually calm Uichico was seen throwing a chair and punching Goulding, who was underneath a pile of players during the brawl.

Aguilar’s father Peter was seen throwing a chair at Sobey, who was later punched by a man wearing a cap and grey shirt which turned out to be Jalalon.

FIBA began disciplinary proceedings hours after the fight while both the SBP and Basketball Australia submitted their positions before Saturday morning’s deadline.

At presstime, the two national federations held a press conference to explain their sides on the sanctions.