by Jonas Terrado
The world governing body FIBA yesterday for unsportsmanlike behavior in a brawl that marred their World Cup Qualifiers match against Australia last July 2 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
The players suspended were Calvin Abueva (six games), Roger Pogoy (five games for instigating unsportsmanlike behavior), Carl Bryan Cruz and Jio Jalalon (five games each), Terrence Romeo, Jayson Castro, Andray Blatche and Troy Rosario (three games each) and Japeth Aguilar and Matthew Wright (one game each).
Gilas coach Chot Reyes was banned one game plus a fine of 10,000 swiss francs (roughly P534,000) for inciting unsportsmanlike behavior and assistant Jong Uichico got a three-game suspension for joining the fracas.
FIBA also fined the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) 250,000 swiss francs (P13.5 million) for “unsportsmanlike behavior of its delegation members and of its public, as well as for insufficient organization of the game.”
The Gilas will also be forced to play its next home game against Qatar on Sept. 17 behind closed doors “while a ban for two more home games has been placed under a probationary period of three years,” FIBA added.
Suspended on the Australian side were Daniel Kickert (five games for instigating unsportsmanlike behavior), NBA player Thon Maker (three games) and Chris Goulding (one game) even as Basketball Australia, SBP’s counterpart, was fined 100,000 swiss francs (P5.3 million) for unsportsmanlike behavior and for removing the court decals during practice.
Referees Ahmed Al Bulushi of Oman, Hatim Alharbi of Saudi Arabia and Paul Skayem of Lebanon, meanwhile, were also removed from both the FIBA Elite Program and nomination from any FIBA competitions for one year.
“FIBA wishes to emphasize that it condemns any form of violence, both on and off the court,” FIBA said in a press release. “Respect, sportsmanship and professionalism are expected from players, coaches, officials and all other stakeholders at every game.
“Moreover, host countries must ensure the highest standards of organizational conditions are in place to guarantee the safety and well-being of players and other participants at all times,” FIBA added.
The suspensions won’t affect the players’ professional stints in the PBA, Australia’s National Basketball League, Chinese Basketball Association (Blatche plays for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers) and the NBA (Maker suits up for the Milwaukee Bucks).
The SBP, on the other hand, escapes a more severe sanction as such a lengthy suspension or the loss of its right to host the FIBA World Cup in 2023.
SBP President Al Panlilio considered the sanctions as “fair”, though he and the rest of the federation officials may seek clarification on certain issues – possibly the amount of the fines, length of suspensions and the probationary period issued by FIBA.
The SBP and Basketball Australia have 14 days to submit an appeal.
“Again, we will have to go through the document really, really well,” Panlilio said in a press conference held at the PLDT office in Makati City.
Panlilio added the SBP Executive Committee will meet anytime soon to discuss the composition of the team for the start of the second round, particularly a temporary replacement for Reyes in the second round opener against host Iran on Sept. 13 and the addition of new players to the pool.