By Genalyn Kabiling
The nasty brawl that erupted between Gilas Pilipinas and Australia Boomers was an “unfortunate” and “regretful” incident that should never have happened, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the basketball players showed unsportsmanlike conduct and must accept whatever sanctions to be imposed by FIBA authorities.
“We found the whole incident unfortunate. It was of course the height of being unsportsmanlike but at the same time we appreciate that it’s something that we have to be sorry about because it should never have happened,” Roque said during a Palace press briefing.
“We emphatize somehow with the feelings of our fellow Filipinos which is not to justify their conduct,” he added.
A FIBA World Cup qualifying match plunged into chaos when a vicious fight broke out between the Philippines and Australian teams at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan last Monday. The incident occurred when a hard foul by Gilas guard Roger Ray Pogoy on Australia’s Chris Goulding was followed by an elbow hit from Australia’s Daniel Kickert.
FIBA has reported started disciplinary hearings against the two warring teams.
Roque said the referees should have stopped the game when Kickert hit Pogoy.
“There should have been a foul shot instead but it continued. I don’t know why it was allowed to continue,” he said.
“We do not justify the conduct of our Filipino players. All we are saying. it was a regretful incident and it should not happen,” he added.
Roque claimed that the fight between the two teams was probably the worst he has seen in Philippine sports.
Asked if the government was apologetic for the brawl, Roque said: “Well, it should never have happened. That’s why it’s call sports but at the time we’re saying we empathize they have to act as a team which will not justify their conduct.”
He noted that the some basketball players have already apologized for the incident.
He said they FIBA to impose the appropriate sanctions against the players involved in the fight. “I hope our players, as true sportsmen, will honor whatever the decision FiBA will be graciously,” he said.
To avoid a repeat of the incident, Roque said he hopes there would be “better referees who would intervene when there’s a foul move made by one of the players.
“I’m surprised it was allowed to continue given it was…I know it was a fast-paced game but the whistle should have been blown and the game should have been stopped from the very first instance the foul was committed,” he said.