BOCAUE, Bulacan — Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) vice chairman Robbie Puno acknowledged that last night’s fist fight between Gilas Pilipinas and Australia was an embarrassing situation, but he still managed pulled out some positives.
Puno said that the melee, which resulted in nine Philippine team players and four Boomers getting thrown out of the game, showed that the players stood united no matter what the situation may have been.
“It’s a little bit of an embarrassment, I guess, but we stand together. This was a bad situation that I think we can only hope to get some good out of it and say that we showed ourselves as a united team, a team that fights together and doesn’t back down from anyone so let that be a lesson to everybody else,” he said.
The vice chairman also said that he felt nothing but pride for the team who, for him, weren’t too keen on getting disrespected on their home floor.
“I think there was an attempt to disrespect us and we stood our ground. And I’m proud of the Gilas Pilipinas boys for standing and fighting for the Filipino people. But of course, it’s an unfortunate incident,” he continued.
Similar to what Chot Reyes said in a later interview, Puno observed that Daniel Kickert and Chris Goulding were responsible for letting the incident escalate into a full-on brawl.
“Number 12 (Kickert), at the very start of the game at the warm-up, pushed Matthew Wright. Number 4 (Goulding) was taunting every foul shooter that we had. Then the referees simply just didn’t control. I don’t even know who the referees are,” he explained.
FIBA has not handed out disciplinary procedures as of writing, but they did issue a statement saying that they’ll be reviewing the incident.
It remains to be seen what the fate of the national team will be, but Puno is optimistic that there won’t be any sanctions or suspensions meted out.
“As far as we know, FIBA doesn’t do that. They’ll throw you out of the game, but there are no suspensions that we know of that happens with FIBA. In that sense, we probably dodged a bullet because we are not looking at suspensions. We don’t expect to see suspensions,” he said.
Next on SBP’s agenda will be ironing out logistics for their World Cup hosting in front of the FIBA board. Puno noted that they’ll have to give a reassurance that security measures will be implemented more tightly, but he said that it won’t be a problem that will bug them in the future.
“The sudden events that occurred caught our security a bit flat-footed, took them a little while. We had a lot of policemen, but it’s just that they weren’t expecting something to have to be handled on the court. They were securing the ingress and egress of the crowd, but we had enough people in the future that I’m sure it’ll be handled. It won’t be an issue,” he said.
“In future board meetings with FIBA, it’ll be something that [Manny V. Pangilinan] will be asked about and it’ll be something that we’ll reassure everybody that this isn’t going to happen again.”
(photo from FIBA.com)