MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The Australian men’s basketball team returned home on Wednesday facing possible sanctions from the sport’s governing body after a massive mid-game brawl during a World Cup qualifier in Manila.
Nine Filipino and four Australian players were ejected from Monday night’s match after officials spent more than 30 minutes separating the players who had punched and kicked each other several times.
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA), the game’s world governing body, opened disciplinary proceedings and said it announce penalties and fines.
“We accept that there will be sanctions forthcoming and we need to address those and we move forward from there,” Ned Coten, chairman of Basketball Australia, told the Channel Nine network.
Australia was leading 79-48 with four minutes left in the third quarter of the World Cup 2019 Asian qualifier when Philippines guard Roger Pogoy hit Chris Goulding with an elbow.
Goulding’s team mate Daniel Kickert retaliated to spark a free-for-all with the crowd getting involved.
Kickert told Channel Nine his actions were “regrettable and unfortunate” and he was prepared for the consequences.
“I’m going to let FIBA do everything they need to do to take the time, go through the process and come to the answers that they see fit and bring down the sanctions that they bring down,” he said.
Assistant coach Luc Longley said he blamed the Philippine head coach Vincent “Chot” Reyes for the incident.
“I do believe that their coach Chot Reyes incited them to come out and thug us,” he said.
“I think he was embarrassed by the way his team were playing...I think he was embarrassed and I think that’s where a lot of it came from, right from there,” he said.
In Manila, Reyes said Australia played a great game but should not have run up the score.
The match 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.
“I congratulate them. They came in, they played a great game, they shot the lights out,” Reyes told Reuters Television.
“They deserved to win, but we didn’t deserve to get that disrespect and bullying from them,” he added.
Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Darren Schuettler