By JONAS TERRADO
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and its Australian counterpart Basketball Australia once again apologized for Monday’s brawl at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, this time through a joint statement that the two national federations hope would ease the tension between the two teams.
Both federations made separate statements in the aftermath of the fight that occurred during the third quarter of their FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers match but decided to collaborate on issuing a joint press release perhaps in response to countless accusations by members of both sides in the days that followed.
“We deeply regret the events that took place during the game. The actions displayed have no place on any basketball,” said the joint statement made by SBP President Al Panlilio and Basketball Australia President Ned Coten.
“We wish to apologize to the entire basketball community worldwide – and in particular to our fantastic fans in the Philippines and Australia – for the behavior displayed by both teams and for bringing the game of basketball into disrepute.
“We fully accept our responsibility and are collaborating in the ongoing proceedings to investigate the incidents. We will do everything in our power to prevent this from happening again. Basketball has a unique power to unite and we look forward to continuing bringing people together in the true spirit of friendship and sportsmanship in future games.”
FIBA began its disciplinary proceedings hours after the melee broke out with 4:01 remaining in the third quarter and Australia comfortably ahead 79-48. The world governing body has yet to announce as to when it will release its findings.
Roger Pogoy’s hit on Chris Goulding forced Daniel Kickert to elbow the former, triggering a wild scene that saw punches and chairs being thrown mostly by Gilas players and coaches.
Most members of both teams later apologized for their actions, but didn’t stop others from throwing accusations as to which side is to be blamed.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes blamed Kickert for starting the tension pregame, claiming that the Boomers veteran hit a Gilas player during the pregame warmups. Australian media and local network ESPN5 have been showing videos either pointing at either Kickert or Gilas’ Calvin Abueva as the instigator.