(Reuters) - Former NBA player Luc Longley, now part of Australia’s coaching staff, has been singled out for praise after he rushed to break up a mass brawl involving players from his team and the Philippines in a World Cup qualifier on Monday.
Thirteen players were ejected following the third quarter incident, which was triggered when Philippines guard Roger Pogoy struck Chris Goulding with an elbow to spark a free-for-all in the game being held at a packed Bulacan arena.
Goulding found himself on the floor under a pile of players and officials and the 49-year-old Longley, the first Australian to play in the NBA, raced in to protect the stricken guard from his swarm of attackers.
The player’s agent Daniel Moldovan praised Longley for his actions on his response to a video of the brawl posted on Twitter.
“Horrific vision..... Luc Longley might have just saved Chris Goulding’s life. The assistant coach grabs a chair and pummels it down on his head while multiple cowards stomp on him. This is very hard to watch,” Moldovan said.
Talking to SEN Radio on Tuesday, Moldovan pledged to pursue legal action if basketball’s governing body FIBA did not make what he felt would be an adequate response to the incident.
“That was just Chris — alone, underneath 12 guys stomping him, punching him, kicking him, the American on the team was holding his leg down so he couldn’t get up,” Moldovan said.
“What took place from those that flew off the bench out of sight and out of mind for those involved in the fracas, the team officials, managers, equipment guys, waterboys, whoever they were - going in, in the fashion that they did...
“That’s where I take serious offence to what took place and that’s where I want to see FIBA come down with a very, very heavy hand.
“Fines are inadequate. There would need to be serious sanctions against the federation.”
Philippines coach Jong Uichico and players from both teams took to social media to express their regret over the brawl that marred a game won 89-53 by Australia, with Milwaukee Bucks center Thon Maker clarifying his role after he was ejected.
“I am deeply disappointed in the actions displayed during yesterday’s game against the Philippines,” the South Sudanese-born Australian said on Twitter.
“Being from a war-torn country, basketball for me has always been a means to bring people together. I feel a great responsibility as an NBA player to carry myself in a way that promotes peace and unity.
“My hope is that this experience provides a springboard for discussion regarding the security surrounding these games.”
Reporting by John O'Brien in Singapore; editing by Amlan Chakraborty