36ers coach assures Philippines-Australia brawl 'just one incident'
MANILA, Philippines – Adelaide 36ers head coach Joey Wright guaranteed there will be no repeat of the Philippines-Australia brawl as his team battles Gilas Pilipinas in a tune-up game for the upcoming FIBA World Cup.
The Philippine team has less than two weeks before the World Cup kicks off on August 31 and it will make its final adjustments after facing Adelaide on August 23 and 25.
While some Australian fans may still have bad memories of the infamous free-for-all, Wright – who once played in the PBA as import – said the unpleasant episode does not entirely represent the brand of Filipino basketball.
"[S]ome of the fans in Australia think that one incident is who the Filipino basketball is. It's not," Wright told reporters during the Philippine team sendoff on Wednesday, August 21, in Pasig City.
National team head coach Yeng Guiao had previously suggested the Philippines and Australia face each other in a friendly match to heal the wounds of the past.
But with their schedules failing to match ahead of the World Cup, Adelaide became the next choice after Wright received an invite from old pal Mark Dickel, who serves as consultant for TNT in the PBA.
"We wanted to come over here and show them that we can play a game here and we'll be treated well – we have been treated exceptionally – and nothing like that will happen. It's just one incident," Wright said.
"We're here to try to help them get better. We expect them to be passionate and play great basketball. We'll try to get out there and work on some things ourselves."
As he went down memory lane, Wright only had good memories of the Philippines when he played for Presto in the third conference of the 1992 PBA season.
"The first game I arrived, I played with Allan Caidic and I could not believe how well a shooter he was. I had 52 points and he had 47. It was a lot of fun," Wright fondly recalled.
"He's probably the best shooter I've ever played with. Great memories of being here in the Philippines."
And although he has had a relatively successful stint with Adelaide in the National Basketball League, Wright expressed interest of returning to the country.
"I'm really always excited about coming back here. Hopefully, one day, I'll come back and coach here too." – Rappler.com