Brewing hostility between Gilas and Australia instigated massive brawl

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 3) — The massive brawl which broke out between Gilas Pilipinas and the Australia Boomers on Monday night turned out to be just a culmination of heated emotions and a series of fracases between the two parties.

A day before the highly-anticipated match, the Australian Boomers were reportedly seen ripping off some of the stickers of Gilas' sponsors on the court without permission from the hosts nor FIBA during their closed-door training.

 

According to Australia, the decals made the floor slippery which compromised their players' safety.

This immediately drew the ire from officials of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas who denounced the act on social media.

 

 

This turned out to be the first in a series of contentious issues between Gilas and Australia.

"There was an incident last night with the stickers and although Australia has apologized for it I personally feel it was uncalled for and arrogant for them to do that and disrespectful to us", explained SBP president Al Panlilio.

Following the apology of the Australian delegation, the decals were reinstalled two hours before the game on Monday evening.

 

But with an hour left before tipoff, tensions rose again between both teams after Australian Daniel Kickert allegedly hit four players from the Gilas camp during the warm-ups.

"He hit Carl Bryan Cruz, Matthew Wright, RR Pogoy and Calvin Abueva during the warm-ups," explained Gilas head coach Chot Reyes.

"Whatever his motive is, there was no excuse for him doing what he did during the warm-up. Nakakita na ba kayo na tinira yung kalaban sa warm-up? Sa lay-up line? Round robin, hindi pa naguumpisa tinira na tayo. What do you expect us to do?" he added.

Despite tempers flaring within the Philippine team, Reyes restrained his players telling them "Wag niyo ng pansinin. Focus on the game".

It was in the 4:01 mark of the third period when things completely went downhill.

In a span of 10 seconds, what started out as an offensive play by RR Pogoy against Australia's Christopher Goulding turned out to be a free-for-all on the hardcourt.

A bench-clearing scuffle soon ensued between both teams as players each tried to find a matchup of their own.

 

In the end, a total of 13 players were ejected from the game.

Nine players from Gilas were thrown out - Andray Blatche, Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, Calvin Abueva, Rr Pogoy, Troy Rosario, Japeth Aguilar, Matthew Wright, and Carl Bryan Cruz.

Meanwhile, four Australians were also ejected — Thon Maker, Nathan Sobey, Daniel Kickert, and Christopher Goulding

June Mar Fajardo, Baser Amer, and Gabe Norwood were left to fend for themselves against Australia before eventually fouling out to let the Boomers win by default, 89-53.

Related: Australia beats Gilas by default after fight-marred match in FIBA World Cup qualifiers  

In the aftermath, Reyes revealed they could no longer restrain themselves as he blamed Kickert for instigating another physical bout.

"The foul of Pogoy on Goulding was called an offensive foul, it was a basketball play. [Kickert] was the one who came in and decked Pogoy for the fifth time. You can't expect to do that to a team for five times and not expect us to retaliate."

Both teams await possible sanctions from FIBA as they announced on Monday that they have opened disciplinary proceedings between both parties.

 

Several hours following the incident, the governing bodies of both national teams released their official statements expressing their apologies to their fans.

SBP wrote, "As hosts, we regret having breached the bounds of traditional Filipino hospitality. As the national team representing flag and country, we likewise extend our apologies to the Filipino people."

 

Meanwhile on behalf of Basketball Australia, Chief Executive Anthony Moore expressed, "We are extremely disappointed with what happened and our role in it. We apologise to our fans and will await the penalties to be handed down."