Early this July, the Philippine national men’s basketball team, better known as Gilas Pilipinas, was playing a game against Australia at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, as part of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers for 2019. It was the second time Gilas would encounter the Australians in the match bracket for Group B of the Asian qualifiers, but matters fell out of control when a round of rough play spurred the teams to brawl on the court, leading to Australia winning by default. FIBA was put to deliberate on what penalties to be invoked on all participants. This Thursday, their decision was made known.
CNN Philippines has it that the International Federation of Basketball Associations (FIBA) made its final ruling this July 19, on the fates of the players from Philippines and Australia that were involved in the bench-clearing brawl during the World Cup Asian Qualifiers. To wit, all 13 Gilas players who were ejected from the July 2 match were slapped with game suspensions of varying severity, alongside head coach Chot Reyes and assistant coach Jong Uichico. Even the Philippines’ basketball governing body, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), was fined due the unsportsmanlike behavior of their delegates.
Of the Gilas players themselves, Calvin Abueva received the worst of it with a six-game suspension, because he had already exhibited unsportsmanlike conduct in a prior FIBA-sanctioned game. Roger Pogoy, Carl Cruz and Jio Jalalon are both out for five games; Terence Romeo, Jayson Castro William, Andray Blatche, Jeth Rosario, and assistant coach Jong Uichico all for three; and the least-affected being Japeth Aguilar, Matthew Wright, and Coach Chot Reyes who will only sit out one game. FIBA will also be exacting disciplinary fines in Swiss Francs, equivalent to P535,000 and P13.3 million, from Coach Reyes and the SBP respectively.
As for Australia, the three brawling players got varying levels of FIBA game suspensions: Daniel Kickert for five, Thon Maker for three, and a missed game for Chris Goulding. Basketball Australia for their part was fined an equivalent of P5.3 million for their player’s behavior, particularly concerning how the Australians tore up floor stickers from the Philippine Arena court during practice the day before their game with the Philippines. This was cited as one of the factors for the hostility generated by Gilas against their opponents during the match, leading to the brawl during the third quarter of the game.
Quite fortunately, the penalties exacted by FIBA on the SBP and Gilas Pilipinas will not adversely affect the hosting rights of the Philippines, alongside Japan and Indonesia, for the 2023 FIBA World Cup. The upcoming FIBA World Cup with take place on 2019 in China.
Image courtesy of ABC News Australia