MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Thirteen players and two Filipino basketball coaches have been suspended for their role in a mass brawl during a World Cup qualifier between the Philippines and Australia earlier this month, the sport’s governing body announced on Thursday.
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) also said it would fine the national Philippines basketball organization 250,000 Swiss francs ($250,000) and the Australians 100,000 Swiss francs for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“FIBA wishes to emphasize that it condemns any form of violence, both on and off the court. Respect, sportsmanship and professionalism are expected from players, coaches, officials and all other stakeholders at every game,” a statement read.
Nine home players and four Australians were ejected from the 2019 World Cup Asian qualifier in Bulacan on July 2 after officials spent more than 30 minutes separating members of both teams following a brawl that was triggered in the third quarter.
The game eventually resumed but had to be halted for good once the hosts were left with just one player on court as Australia won the contest 89-53.
Al Panlilio, president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), the Philippine basketball body, said it had accepted the disciplinary panel’s decision and was in the process of reviewing it, in case there was potential to appeal.
“The SBP, together with the Gilas national basketball team, apologize to our countrymen and to the basketball community at large for our conduct to the incident,” the organization said.
“We re-affirm the principle of no violence in any form on the basketball court or off it.”
The Australian Basketballers’ Association (ABA) said it would not appeal the penalties on behalf of the players, but it was seeking further clarification from FIBA regarding sanctions imposed on some officials and fans involved.
“This has been a truly difficult period for our players. We hope the game can now move forward and the focus can shift to our Boomers performing at their very best as individuals and as a team on the court,” ABA Chief Executive Jacob Holmes said.
Filipino players received the heftiest sanctions.
Calvin Abueva was banned for six games, while Roger Pogoy, Carl Cruz and Jio Jalalon were suspended for five games apiece.
Pogoy was also sanctioned for inciting unsportsmanlike conduct, while Japeth Aguilar and Matthew Wright were each suspended for one game. Gabe Norwood was not sanctioned.
Among the home team’s officials, assistant coach Joseph Uichico was suspended for three games, while head coach Vincent ‘Chot’ Reyes will miss one game and was also fined for inciting unsportsmanlike conduct.
The country’s basketball organization was sanctioned for the behavior of its members and the public, as well as for insufficient organization of the game. The team will play their next home game behind closed doors, among other measures.
For Australia, Daniel Kickert was suspended for five games, Thon Maker three games, and Chris Goulding one game. No sanctions were imposed on Nathan Sobey or Jason Cadee.
The Australians were also sanctioned for tampering with equipment after removing floor stickers from the court during practice on the eve of the game, FIBA said.
($1 = 1.0006 Swiss francs)
Reporting by Melanie Burton and Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by John O'Brien