Basketball CEO slams involvement of 'fans and officials' in brawl

Vince Rugari
Basketball CEO slams involvement of 'fans and officials' in brawl

Basketball Australia CEO Anthony Moore admits the sport's global governing body is in "new territory" as it assesses the wild brawl that erupted in their men's basketball World Cup qualifier in the Philippines.

The Boomers are bruised, battered and shaken but have somehow escaped serious injury from chaotic scenes that saw a prone Chris Goulding attacked by about a dozen Filipino players and officials and Nathan Sobey hit with a chair thrown by a fan.

Australia won the match but it ended in total farce after 13 players, including four Boomers, were ejected from the game.

The fighting broke out towards the end of the third quarter when Goulding was pushed to the ground by Filipino guard Roger Kogoy with a raised forearm.

Daniel Kickert then came in and struck Kogoy with an elbow to the face but was quickly pounced upon by Philippines players from all corners, and the madness ensued from there.

While the home team's bench cleared, Australia's bench players were restrained from doing likewise, which Moore said was to avoid automatic ejections.

Moore admitted Kickert's action was an "unsavoury act" and "challenging" to defend but said his main concern was what happened afterwards.

'CRIMINAL' BLOW: The most disgusting moment from the Boomers brawl

IMMATURE ACT: Why fans are calling this selfie a disgrace

Many Philippino officials joined the melee. Pic: Fox Sports

"Whilst we accept our responsibility for our role in last night's incident, what we don't accept is the action whereby fans and officials actually get involved in the fray," Moore told reporters in Brisbane on Tuesday.

"We find that absolutely unacceptable."

Moore did not rule out the prospect of potential criminal action being taken against those involved but said Basketball Australia would first allow a FIBA investigation and tribunal process unfold.

With players departing the Philippines to various locations around the world, time frames are unclear.

"I can't speculate on what the sanctions will be because we're actually in new territory in this regard," Moore said.

"We want to work with FIBA on the tribunal and get that outcome and we'll assess our outcomes from there.

"We have briefed our lawyers on that, as you would expect us to do."

Moore said Australian players, coaches and officials held genuine fears for their physical safety in what he described as a "tinderbox" of tension in the Philippines, where basketball is the most popular sport.

Fortunately, representatives from the Australian embassy were in attendance at the match and helped the team exit the arena, board their team bus and return to their hotel.

"You will have seen in the vision our athletes and coaches actually stayed on the court for a considerable amount of time because that was deemed to be the safest place for our players and coaches," Moore said.

"That's a fairly compelling set of circumstances; are we actually going to get out of here unscathed?

"Physically our players are fine. They're bruised and battered... (but) all the players are shaken up and Chris in particular.

"There's vision of Luc Longley, our NBA legend, taking the position of Australian Wallaby, clearing a maul to actually get a significant number of people off him.

"That's what we were dealing with."

The Owner and Executive Chairman of the NBL, Larry Kestelman, echoed the sentiments of Moore in an official statement, saying the behaviour of fans and officials couldn't be accepted.

“The NBL stands united with Basketball Australia in condemning the behaviour of players, officials and fans during the Boomers game against the Philippines in Manila last night.

“Our players need to accept responsibility for what happened on the court and any sanctions that follow. However we do not accept what happened on the sidelines when Australian players were attacked by fans and officials including a chair being thrown at one of the Boomers’ players Nathan Sobey and another player Chris Goulding set upon on the floor.

“This disgraceful behaviour needs to be dealt with by FIBA in the strongest possible manner and we will await the outcome of their investigation. We commend the restraint shown by our players and officials in the circumstances and we are working with Basketball Australia to facilitate the players’ return home in the quickest and safest way possible and protect their welfare.

“We are proud of the NBL’s well earned reputation as a family sport and we are thankful that this sort of behaviour is not a feature of Australian basketball. We have record participation levels, crowds and interest in basketball and we are committed to continuing to deliver a first class product all Australians can enjoy and be proud of.”