Australia, Philippines basketball match marred by on-court brawl

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A brawl broke out on the basketball court during a World Cup qualifying match that saw Australia and Philippines players throw punches, chairs and kicks at each other.

Australia led 79-48 with four minutes left in the third quarter on Tuesday when Philippines guard Roger Pogoy struck Chris Goulding with an elbow during the World Cup 2019 Asian qualifier.

Goulding’s teammate Daniel Kickert retaliated to prompt a free-for-all with the crowd getting involved.

Match officials spent over 30 minutes separating the players who had by then punched and kicked each other several times.

The game eventually resumed in farcical fashion with Philippines fielding three players against Australia’s five.

The match, in Bulacan, in the Philippines, was called off at the end of the third quarter with Australia leading 89-53, after the hosts were left with only one player due to fouls. 

Philippines’ basketball and government officials expressed regret over the brawl that led to the ejection of nine Filipino and four Australian players.

However, 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,” said Puno.

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA), the game’s world governing body, opened disciplinary proceedings.

Penalties and fines would be announced in the coming days, FIBA said on Twitter.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, said the government did not justify the conduct of the Filipino players in the “regretful incident”.

Basketball Australia said it was “extremely disappointed with what happened and our role in it”.

“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,” said Anthony Moore, the chief executive of Basketball Australia.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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