Ex-national team coach Yeng Guiao backs Gilas after infamous brawl

Delfin Dioquino
The firebrand tactician, who mentored the Philippine squad a decade ago, says the Australians should be blamed for the bench-clearing melee

DEFENSE. Yeng Guiao says Gilas Pilipinas players acted on 'natural human instinct' when they figured in a full-blown skirmish with Australia. Photo from PBA Images

MANILA, Philippines – Former national team head coach Yeng Guiao gave his support to the embattled Gilas Pilipinas, noting the Australians were already “looking for trouble when they came here.” 

Guiao, who mentored the Philippine team a decade ago, singled out Daniel Kickert as the Australian player who sparked the bench-clearing melee that has stunned the basketball world. 

“What the Gilas players did was, to me, a natural human instinct in that situation. So, actually for me, I think it’s the Australians who need to apologize, not the Gilas team, because it’s Kickert’s action that started the whole thing,” he said. 

Gilas’ RR Pogoy shoved Christopher Goulding to the ground before he was decked by Kickert with a forearm to the head. In retaliation, the Nationals ran after Kickert and several landed punches on him during the brawl-marred match in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers at the Philippine Arena on Monday, July 2

The NLEX Road Warriors tactician added Kickert had it coming from the Filipinos, saying what Pogoy did to Goulding was still a basketball play that merited an offensive foul. 

“To me, what is more embarrassing, if Kickert did that in front of our countrymen with us hosting and he did not suffer any consequences after doing that.”

Sabi ko nga, kung hindi nag-react ng ganoon, baka mas nakakahiya pa. Bakit mo pinabayaan ‘yung kakampi niyo? Binully kayo ng isang foreigner na nandito sa bansa natin na sa tingin ko lang eh hindi talaga basketball play.” 

(Like I said, if they did not react that way, it will probably be more embarrassing. Why would you abandon your teammate? You were bullied by a foreigner here in our country and I think what he did was not a basketball play.) 

Guiao also came to the defense of Gilas head coach Chot Reyes, who was blamed by Australia assistant coach Luc Longley for inciting the Nationals to “come out and thug” their Australian counterparts. 

“I think the Australians are just looking for somebody to blame when ang dapat i-blame, ang (those they should blame are the) Australians, who I think are looking for trouble when they came here. The tone was set the day before when they were ripping the decals without any permission.”

Tapos Luc Longley is putting the blame on somebody else? I think it’s a way to escape the responsibility and escape the guilt from what they did. They also said they felt unsafe sa security nila. Parang they feared for their safety. But who put them in that place anyway? Sila rin eh,” Guiao added. 

(And then Luc Longley is putting the blame on somebody else? I think it’s a way to escape the responsibility and escape the guilt from what they did. They also said they felt unsafe for their security. It is like they feared for their safety. But who put them in that place anyway? It was them.)  

The two-time PBA Coach of the Year, who admitted he is biased towards Filipinos, is dumbfounded by the fact that Gilas players have offered their apologies when Kickert has not.

“And the bad thing about this is our Gilas players are profusely apologizing for what happened, the guy who started it never apologized – he was just saying ‘it’s regrettable’ and ‘it’s unfortunate.'”

On another note, Guiao said he cannot defend the ugly clash that spilled over the sidelines when Allein Maliksi, Gilas deputy coach Jong Uichico and several civilians ganged up on Goulding and pummeled him and when a fan – who had been identified in reports as Peter Aguilar, the father of Gilas player Japeth Aguilar – threw a chair at Nathan Sobey, who was then punched to the head by Jio Jalalon. 

I will not justify that. Mali talaga ‘yun. I agree na mali talaga ‘yun. Siguro noong burst of emotion, after that, dapat naawat na, dapat naano na.” 

(I will not justify that. That is wrong. I agree that is wrong. After the burst of emotion, they should have already been separated.)  – Rappler.com

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.