SBP President: We still hope to host FIBA 2023

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Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President Al Panillo hopes the country will remain the hosts of the next basketball world tournament. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila ( CNN Philippines, July 3) — Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President Al Panlilio hopes the country will remain the hosts of the 2023 FIBA World Cup, following an on-court brawl between the national teams of the Philippines and Australia.

Panlilio said Tuesday they have to wait for the national team's fate following the International Federation of Basketball's (FIBA) announcement that it will open disciplinary proceedings against Gilas Pilipinas and the Australia Boomers.

"[There are] consequences we have to face, whatever FIBA decides on, but I hope this does not affect the hosting on 2023," Panlilio told CNN Philippines' New Day.

Panlilio said the SBP is planning to write a letter to FIBA officials ahead of their decision, to explain the incident and to add previous provocations they have observed before the game. 

Panlilio alleged Australian player Daniel Kickert, whose elbow hit against Gilas' RR Pogoy ignited the brawl and was already provoking the players prior to the start of the match.

"We are planning to write ahead of any decision made by FIBA to explain what happened last night and it's not just the elbow by Kickert that initiated the free-for-all (brawl)," he said. "There were several incidents at the start even during the round robin, Kickert was already hitting at least four players who crossed the line during round robin, so that was quite unusual and there were provocations before the game started."

Panlilio initially pointed to a previous incident as the root of the melee wherein Australian players were removing stickers from the Philippine Arena basketball court, where the game was to be held, without asking for permission from FIBA officials. 

"It was very arrogant for them to do that. Disrespectful actually for us. We were compliant with FIBA rules. It started from there," he said Monday night. 

READ: SBP President says ‘very weak crew’ officiated Gilas-Australia game

Basketball Australia CEO Anthony Moore issued a public apology for the brawl and the removal of the decals in the arena on Tuesday. He also expressed his regrets for the involvement of the fans in the fray. 

"We accept our responsibility, our role in that incident. But, what we don't accept is the action whereby the fans and the officials actually get involved in the fray," he said in a press conference. 

Moore denied, however, the allegations made by Gilas coaches on incidents that occurred during the warm-up, which may have fueled the brawl that followed, although he did not specify what these incidents were. 

"We heard the Filipino coaches' comments in relation to incidents that occurred in the warm-up and we absolutely had to refute that…That's something we absolutely don't believe occurred," he said.

He maintained however that the referees could have been more involved in placating the situation. 

"The referees were not able to control the game. They think that with passionate teams like Australia and the Philippines, (they) will always play hard, and be very physical and that is expected but the referees should not let this go out of hand and escalate into a brawl that we saw last night," he said. 

He added that they displayed a lack of experience when they announced the ejections before consulting with the teams' coaches. 

"When they (referees) came out, they should have spoken to the coaches first before announcing the ejections...Medyo process-wise they did not show me they were experienced enough to handle a very important game such as this," Panlilio added.

The Philippines secured the right to host the 2023 FIBA  tournament back in December 2017, with Japan and Indonesia as its co-hosts.

READ: PH, Japan, Indonesia to host 2023 FIBA World Cup

Tweets and a selfie

Mixed reactions flooded social media tackling the brawl and the reactions of the players. 

Gilas player Terrence Romeo drew flak for his post, insisting that joining the brawl was an act of brotherhood for his teammates.

"Dun sa mga kapwa namin players na nag sasabing  embarassing kami wala kaming paki alam sa inyo . Kami mag kaka teammate sa loob kailangan namin mag tulungan. Hindi namin pwede pabayaan yung isat isa. Kung embarrassing kami sa mata niyo bat di kayo mag convert ng australian," his tweet after the game read.

[Translation: To our fellow players who are saying that we were embarrassing, we don't care about you. If we have a teammate on the court, we need to help them. We can't just leave each other. If we're embarrassing in your eyes, why don't you convert to Australian.]

Naturalized big man Andray Blatche had this to say after the game.

Some celebrities and netizens on the other hand, did not agree with Romeo's tweet and condemned the team's behavior. 




Meanwhile, Twitter users also heavily criticized Gilas player Marc Pingris for taking a selfie after the brawl subsided. 





However, some users and even notable personalities defended Pingris, saying he made the gesture to lighten the mood of the event.