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FIBA (International Basketball Federation)

Philippines and Australia basketball brawl erupts with punches, kicks and chairs thrown and 13 players ejected

Incredible melee in Bulacan sees 2019 World Cup qualifier descend into farce as the Philippines are forced to play on against Boomers with three men before forfeiting

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 11:27am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 3:48pm

A basketball World Cup qualifier descended into farce as the Philippines were left to play with three men against Australia after referees ejected 13 players following a mass brawl involving officials and fans where punches, kicks and even a chair were thrown.

World basketball’s governing body Fiba has opened disciplinary proceedings against the teams and said a decision would be announced in the coming days.

The fight at the Philippine Arena outside Manila in Bulacan was sparked when Philippines guard Roger Pogoy knocked down Chris Goulding with an elbow, as Australia led 79-48 with four minutes left in the third quarter.

Australia’s Daniel Kickert then hit back at Pogoy with an elbow, sparking a melee with members of the crowd getting involved.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Thon Maker flew towards a Philippines player with his knee, while former NBA star Andray Blatche of the Philippines appeared to throw several punches at Australian players.

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Stunned referees could only look on as the fighting spilled off the court into the area behind the baseline, with more punches and kicks thrown.

Video showed a chair being thrown into the back of an Australian player by a fan.

Nathan Sobey of Australia appeared to be punched in the face by a fan, while Goulding was left to fend for himself against a group of Philippines players and officials, with Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis holding his bench and officials back from getting involved.

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Australian former NBA champion Andrew Bogut, who was not playing, said the fight was an “absolute disgrace” and “disgusting” on Twitter.

It took match officials more than 30 minutes to separate the players, with members of the Philippines team then bizarrely posing for group selfies after the brawl.

A Filipino announcer at the stadium made an appeal for calm while the referees – who were flanked by police – conducted a lengthy video review of the brawl.

“We want to appeal to everybody to please settle down,” he said. “We didn’t want [that to happen]. We will wait for the referee’s decision, but please I would like us to respect the game.”

Sobey, Goulding, Maker and Kickert were eventually ejected for Australia, while the Philippines lost nine players.

The Philippines had to play on with only three players when the game resumed, while Australia had eight so could still field a full team of five.

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But the hosts were then forced to forfeit the match at the end of the third quarter after losing another player because of a foul, with Australia awarded an 89-53 victory.

“Basketball Australia deeply regrets the incident in tonight’s match between the Boomers and the Philippines in Manila,” Basketball Australia chief executive Anthony Moore said.

“We are extremely disappointed with what happened and our role in it.”

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He added: “This is not the spirit in which sport should be played and certainly not in the spirit in which we aim to play basketball.

“We apologise to our fans and will await the penalties to be handed down.”

In a press conference on Tuesday, Moore reiterated his sentiments but criticised the involvement of the home fans in the brawl.

“While we accept our responsibility for our role in last night’s incident, what we don’t accept is the action whereby fans and officials get involved in the fray,” he said.

“You’ve all seen Nathan Sobey being assaulted by a fan, and we’ve got Chris Goulding on a pack of players and officials, thrown on the court.

“We’ve also got a fan throwing a chair at one of our players. We absolutely find that unacceptable.”

Philippines coach Vincent Reyes blamed Australia’s Kickert for the brawl, claiming he provoked his side.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable but the reality is Kickert was hitting our players during the warm-ups,” Reyes said.

“He hit Carl Bryan Cruz, he hit Matthew Wright, Pogoy and he hit Calvin Abueva during the warm-ups.

“One thing they have to know about this team is we are not going to back down. We already restrained the players before the game … it’s hard to restrain them.”