Disturbing vision has emerged that seems to show Phillipines basketball coach Chot Reyes encouraging his team to hit the Australian side, before a wild brawl erupted on the court.
In video uploaded to Twitter, Reyes can be heard saying “hit somebody, put someone on their a***”.
— Andrew Wiseman (@ajwise85) July 2, 2018
Moments later a wild brawl erupted on the court, resulting in 13 players being ejected from the court.
However many basketball fans on social media were quick to defend the coach, saying his comments shouldn’t be taken literally.
C'mon now, I've had coaches say that – it's never a literal direction. The right was atrocious but to blame the coach's comment… No
— Holly Thompson (@HollsMT) July 2, 2018
Reyes didn’t go any way towards dispelling claims he encouraged the melee in his post-match comments, saying the Boomers started the fight and his side were “not going to back down”.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable but the reality is (Daniel) Kickert was hitting our players during the warm-ups,” Reyes said after the match.
“He hit Bryan Cruz, he hit Matthew Wright, he hit Pogoy and he hit Calvin Abueva during the warm-ups.
“The foul of Pogoy on Goulding was called a foul, an offensive foul. It was a basketball play but he (Kickert) was the one who came in and then he hit Pogoy for the fifth time.
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“You can’t expect to do that to a team five times and not expect to retaliate so that’s what happened unfortunately.
“That triggered the entire brawl and as unfortunate as it is, like I said, it’s something that you have to be there to know what really went down.”
— Lyn Olavario (@frauey) July 2, 2018
Reyes also refused to condemn the actions of any of his players.
“We already restrained the players before the game.
“When Kickert did all of those things at the start and during the warm-ups we already told them … to focus on the game.
“After he did that in the third quarter it’s hard to restrain them anymore.”
However Basketball Australia CEO denied the allegations that Kickert made any physical contact with the Philippines team before the match.
The Boomers eventually defeated the Philippines 89-53 to finish top of their qualifying group in Bulacan.
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.
Moore admitted Kickert’s action was an “unsavoury act” and “challenging” to defend but said his main concern was what happened afterwards.
“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.”
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.”