by Jonas Terrado
The Philippines may have to worry more about player suspensions than the future of its the 2023 World Cup hosting if FIBA stays consistent with the handling of incidents such as Monday’s massive brawl between Gilas Pilipinas and Australia.
A pair of fights in 2010 prompted FIBA to issue short-term suspensions and fine on host countries which may serve as a precedent for the world governing body by the time it hands down the punishments in the melee that occurred in the World Cup Asian Qualifiers at the Philippine Arena.
SBP President Al Panlilio admitted his concern of severe predicaments regarding the 2023 hosting which the country won through a bid last December, though he cited a fracas between Serbia and Greece in the 2010 Acropolis International Basketball Tournament as an example as to how FIBA handles such cases.
“I hope not,” Panlilio said Tuesday even as the national federation is reportedly finalizing a letter that will be sent to FIBA to explain the national team’s part in one of the worst fights ever seen in a recent international basketball memory.
Serbia’s Nenad Krstic, a former NBA player, was banned for three games by FIBA for his part in the 2010 fight that saw him throw a chair at one of his opponents while teammate Milos Teodosic, who now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers, got a two-game suspension.
Greece’s Antonis Fotsis and Sofoklis Schortsanitis were suspended two games for their involvement. The four players from both countries were forced to miss the early part of that year’s FIBA World Championship in Turkey.
The same year also saw China and Brazil engaged in a fistfight in Sichuan province, prompting FIBA to suspend Chinese coach Robert Donewald Jr. for three games, a fine of 40,000 Swiss francs and a two-year probationary period.
Also sanctioned were Chinese players Zhu Fangyu (two official games), Sun Yue (one official game), Zhang Bo (one official game) and China’s national basketball federation Chinese Basketball Association (20,000 Swiss francs).
Several Gilas players could face suspension for at least one or two games for their part in the fight. Among those that may receive severe punishments are Roger Pogoy, Calvin Abueva, Andray Blatche, Carl Bryan Cruz, Matthew Wright, Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, Allein Maliksi and Jio Jalalon.
It is unknown if the FIBA may affect their respective campaigns for their club teams, though the PBA could mull the possibility of handing their own sanctions as league commissioner Willie Marcial has scheduled a closed-door meeting today with the players.
Already, Gilas coach Chot Reyes has already laid out a plan to add more players to the pool in anticipation of the FIBA sanctions.
Reyes said Marcial expressed willingness to provide additional players to the training pool when preparation resumes in September for the second round of the qualifiers.
Gilas will face Iran, Kazakhstan, and Qatar in a home-and-away format where the top three teams and possibly the fourth placer will secure spots to next year’s World Cup in China.
“Buti na lang sabi ng PBA na support sila,” said Reyes. “Hopefully they’ll give us more players in case (our players are suspended).”
Gilas meets Iran in Tehran on Sept. 13 before heading home to host Qatar on Sept. 17. The Philippines hosts Kazakhstan on Nov. 30 and Iran on Dec. 3 and then visits Qatar on Feb. 21 and Kazakhstan on Feb. 24. (With a report from Waylon Galvez)