File photo shows Philippines and Australian basketball players during their FIBA World Cup qualifying basketball game at the Philippine Arena. – AP
MANILA (AFP) – Basketball’s governing body FIBA yesterday handed down hefty fines and suspensions over an ugly on-court melee in Manila between the Philippine and Australian national teams during a World Cup qualifier.
Thirteen players and two coaches were suspended for unsportsmanlike behaviour and a total of USD360,000 in fines issued, mostly against the Philippine hosts of the July 2 match.
The crew officiating the game, which degenerated into wild punches and flying kicks before stunned spectators, were also suspended from competition.
“FIBA wishes to emphasise that it condemns any form of violence, both on and off the court,” it said it in a statement.
“Respect, sportsmanship and professionalism are expected from players, coaches, officials.”
The violence in Manila, which made international headlines, left the Australian team fearing for their safety, and they sought embassy help to fast-track their departure from the Philippines.
Thirteen players were ejected after the all-in fight between the Gilas Pilipinas and the Boomers, which was hashtagged #basketbrawl as footage and condemnation went viral.
What was already a bad-tempered game erupted in the third quarter when Philippine player Roger Pogoy knocked Australia’s Chris Goulding to the ground and Aussie Daniel Kickert retaliated by flattening Pogoy with a flying elbow.
Both teams later apologised to basketball fans for bring the game into “disrepute” with the massive on-court melee.
In chaotic scenes, a white-shirted attacker appeared to slam a chair onto an Australian player as he was set upon by up to a dozen people, and a fan threw a chair at another Australian team member.
The game eventually resumed with just three men on the Philippines team but it was soon abandoned at 89-53 to Australia after two more home players fouled out.