OPINION: Gilas Pilipinas-Australia brawl. Who’s really at fault?

MANILA, Philippines – A total of 13 players got ejected after a fight break out during the most anticipated rematch between Philippines and Australia where the latter won via default on Monday, July 2 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue Bulacan.

Philippines-Australia brawl. Who’s really at fault?
Andray Blatche throws a straight at Daniel Kickert during the melee | Photo Credit: FIBA/ESPN

Gilas Pilipinas players did the wrong thing for the right reason.

A day prior to the Philippines vs Australia “basketbrawl” match, there was already a tension formed in both squads.

A video shows that some of the Boomers staff ripped off the major sponsor decals on Philippine Arena basketball court. This is where everything started.

Obviously, Manny “MVP” Pangilinan, the major benefactor of the national team and Coach Chot Reyes got pissed off and accused the Boomers of ill-actions because the decals were first and foremost approved by FIBA and the visiting team dismantled them without permission from the FIBA nor SBP officials. Filipino hoop junkies looked at this as sacrilegious and totally disrespectful.

The videos of the actual melee show just a piece of the entire pie. As moments go by, various testimonies from Gilas players and coaches are being revealed. Team Australia however refused to give a word and air its side.

WATCH: VIDEO: Bench-clearing-brawl erupts as Australia Boomers edge Gilas Pilipinas

In an interview, Coach Chot Reyes bared that during the warmups, 5 of his players including PBA brawler Calvin Abueva were intentionally hit by Daniel Kickert. Thus, the Aussie forward triggered the biggest basketball fracas in modern sports history as per Reyes.

Coach Chot’s allegations didn’t stop on Kickert’s attack on Gilas players during the pre-game. At halftime, he informed the media that his players reported that the Boomers threw racial slurs at them including “monkey” insult.

Gilas Players had just enough of team Australia’s bullying antics that started with RR Pogoy retaliating on Chris Gouldings’ verbal jabs with a shove where the Aussie guard flopped and Pogoy got whistled for a technical foul.

It’s just unfortunate that Daniel Kickert jumped in, advertently elbowed RR Pogoy in the chin and started the free-for-all.

Basically, Gilas players only expressed the real essence of brotherhood where everybody got everyone’s back in any situation. After all, it’s the same reason why Daniel Kickert did it to RR Pogoy.

Beside, you know that there’s something really wrong when you see a timid and soft-spoken Jason Castro sprinted towards someone and landed a solid punch in his face. Never in “The Blur’s” entire career that he started a fight.

With regards to Marc Pingris’ selfie shot with the team during the mandatory recess. The world perceives it as insensitive but for the former heart and soul of Gilas Pilipinas, it’s just more of imposing cool vibes on his brothers in a hot scenario.

How about Asst. Coach Jong Uichico unleashing few punches at Chris Goulding? This is totally wrong. Coaches must lead by examples. I just admire Boomers Asst. Coach and former Chicago Bulls center Luke Longley for halting his players and shielding them from further physical injuries. Uichico however apologized to the public and reasoned out that his emotions prevailed just like a real father who cares for his sons.

Hats off to Baser Amer, Gabe Norwood and especially June Mar Fajardo who had chance to butt in, instead, they kept their cool and let the officials and security to their thing.

Do the referees to be blamed as well? Definitely yes. They should’ve called or at least given warnings on players who excessively taunted for unsportsmanlike conduct that could’ve prevented the rumble.

As of writing, FIBA hasn’t released any sanctions yet as the investigation is still ongoing. But definitely, there will be suspensions from both squads. Worst, both Australia and Philippines will be slapped with a short term or potentially long term bans from any FIBA-sanctioned tournaments.

Despite the misfortunes, Australia and Philippines will march onto the next phase of the qualifiers which will star in September not unless FIBA will release the decision and enforce the penalties as soon as possible.

For sure, Gilas Pilipinas players and coaching staff learned their lessons the hard way and they will definitely avoid these kinds of circumstances in the future. In line with this, FIBA being the governing body must tighten the rules on taunting where all altercations start and avert them.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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