Malacañang on FIBA brawl: ‘Height of being unsportsmanlike’

Rappler.com
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also says the referees should have stopped the game right after Australia's Daniel Kickert decked Gilas' RR Pogoy

BRAWL. Punches are thrown between the Philippines and Australia. Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Tuesday, July 3, said the brawl that erupted between the Philippine and Australian teams at the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asia Qualifiers was “unfortunate” and the “height” of unsportsmanlike behavior.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement when asked for Malacañang’s comment on the behavior of members of Gilas Pilipinas in Monday night’s game.

“Let’s just say 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.

“But all we’re saying is that we empathize somehow with the feelings of our fellow Filipinos, which is not to justify their conduct,” he added. 

Roque said Malacañang “empathized that they (Gilas) had to act as a team” but reiterated that this did not justify their actions against certain members of the Australian team. (READ: Terence Romeo calls out Gilas critics in free-for-all)

Roque also pointed out that there should have been better officiating of the game, which would have prevented the brawl.

“Have better referees who will actually intervene when there’s a foul move made by one of the players. I’m surprised it was allowed to continue given that 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 that there was a foul committed,” he said.

Roque said that as soon as Australia’s Daniel Kickert decked Gilas’ RR Pogoy, referees should have stopped the game.

“There should have been a decision to declare it a foul act and there should have been a foul shot instead but it continued, I don’t know why it continued. We do not justify the conduct of our Filipino players. All we’re saying is, well, it was  regretful incident and it should not happen,” he said.

“In the 52 years that I’ve spent in this existence, that’s the worst I’ve seen at least here in the Philippines. We see that in other countries but really not in the Philippines,” Roque added.

The Palace spokesman said Malacañang hopes that Gilas would “graciously” accept the FIBA decision on the “regretful” incident and the corresponding sanctions. (READ: FIBA to probe Gilas, Australia after bench-clearing melee)

“I hope that our players, as true sportsmen, will honor whatever the decision of FIBA would be graciously,” he said.

During the third quarter of the game on Monday, members of the two teams traded punches and kicks after Kickert decked Pogoy. Australia won by default.

The Australian team had apologized for the incident, while some members of the Philippine team had done the same. Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes said what happened was “totally unacceptable” but also called out Kickert for provoking his players even before the game started. – Rappler.com