Basketball’s international governing body has opened disciplinary hearings against Australia and the Philippines after a wild brawl that included Milwaukee Bucks forward Thon Maker broke out in their Basketball World Cup qualifying game Monday.
The fight spilled into the area behind the baseline and video showed a chair being thrown at the back of an Australia player either by a fan or member of the Philippines team staff. Former NBA player Andray Blatche, now playing for the Philippines, appeared to throw multiple punches, while Maker came at a Philippines player with legs flying high as it continued.
A total of 13 players were ejected after the melee that began in the third quarter of Australia’s 89-53 victory following a collision in the lane. The game continued with just three players from the Philippines.
Anthony Moore, chief executive of Australian basketball, apologized to fans in a statement, adding that “this is not the spirit in which sport should be played and certainly not in the spirit in which we aim to play basketball.”
The Australians later tweeted that everyone on their team was safe and well . The Bucks said they would have no comment about Maker. FIBA says a decision will be announced in the coming days.
Philippines’ basketball and government officials on Tuesday expressed regret over the brawl. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, said the government did not justify the conduct of the Filipino players in the “regretful incident.”
“It was of course the height of being unsportsmanlike,” Roque told a regular news conference. “But at the same time we appreciate that it’s something we have to be sorry about because it should never have had happened.”
Vincent Reyes, head coach of the national basketball team, said: “It’s unfortunate, we did not want that to happen, it’s absolutely unacceptable,”
Roberto Puno, vice-chairman of the Philippines’ basketball body, said he was proud of the way the players had “stood their ground”. “I think we stood our ground and I think I’m proud of the Gilas Pilipinas boys for standing our ground, fighting for the Filipino people,” he said.
“Basketball Australia deeply regrets the incident in tonight’s match between the Boomers and the Philippines. We are extremely disappointed with what happened and our role in it,” Anthony Moore, the chief executive of Basketball Australia, said. “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.”