Malacañang has weighed in on the Monday night brawl between Gilas Pilipinas and Australia in their FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers rematch, saying that it was the height of “unsportsmanlike” conduct in an “unfortunate” event.
The two teams got into it late in the third canto after just a minute scuffle. After that, kicks, elbows, and punches – and even a chair – were seen flying. There was even someone in the crowd who threw a plastic bottle near the court.
“Let’s just say that we found the whole incident unfortunate. It was, of course, the height of being unsportsmanlike,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a Palace briefing, Tuesday.
“It’s something that we have to be sorry about because it should never have happened. But all we are saying is, we sympathize somehow with the feelings of our fellow Filipinos, which is not to justify their conduct,” added Roque.
The bout, which would determine the leader of Group B, was stopped with four minutes left in the third quarter, as a free-for-all erupted after Boomers big man Daniel Kickert shoved Gilas’ Roger Pogoy and hit the latter in the jaw.
“What should have happened is as soon as Mr. Kickert did that foul, foul elbow, then the game should have stopped,” Roque said. “There should have been a decision declaring him to have committed a foul act and there should have been a foul shot instead.
“But it continued. I don’t know why it was allowed to continue.”
That incident, which saw 13 players – nine from Gilas – got ejected, was truly regretful, said the Palace. But as much as they understand how the Nationals felt, the conduct that they showed will never be justified.
“It should never have happened. That’s why it’s called sports. But at the same time, we’re saying we emphatize that they have to act as a team, which will not justify their conduct,” he said.
“I think we would have to say it was truly a regretful incident.”