by Waylon Galvez
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio is hoping that the scuffle would be viewed by FIBA officials as an isolated case and has no effect in the country’s co-hosting of the 2023 World Cup.
Top officials of FIBA already awarded to the Philippines the World Cup hosting following a decision last December, with Indonesia and Japan as co-hosts of the first ever multiple host nations of the World Cup.
However, because of the bench-clearing incident between the Philippines and Australia in a 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian last Monday, a pullout by FIBA is now the topic among basketball observers.
The highly physical match between Gilas and the visiting Boomers escalated to a bench-clearing incident when Daniel Kickert elbowed Roger Pogoy in the neck with 4:01 left in the third quarter and the Aussies up 79-48.
The fracas resulted to the ejection of Pogoy, Carl Bryan Cruz, Terrence Romeo, Jayson Castro, Japeth Aguilar, Matthew Wright, Calvin Abueva Troy Rosario and naturalized player Andray Blatche.
Kickert, the instigator who during the pre-game warm-up was already elbowing and pushing some Filipino players, was also ejected from the game together with 7-foot-1 NBA player Thon Maker of the Milwaukee Bucks, Christopher Goulding, and Nathan Sobey.
The fight was the worst that happened in an international game held in the country and one that involved Gilas in recent memories.
Panlilio said that while the SBP is waiting for FIBA decision on players, he mentioned that a suspension on the local federation is unlikely since there is already a precedent.
He pointed to one incident that involved Serbia and Greece in 2010.
“There have been precedents before. The federations involved were fined. It will surprise me if we get suspended, but there is already a precedent,” said Panlilio, also the Meralco Bolts representative to the PBA board.
“We can learn a lot from it, from security around the court, ID, fans cannot go to the court,” he added.