BOCAUE — Officials of Basketball Australia moved to put the 'sticker-gate' issue behind them on Monday, apologizing 'unreservedly' for removing Fiba-approved stickers from the Philippine Arena floor without seeking permission from local organizers.
“Basketball Australia unreservedly apologizes for the removal of decals from the court at Philippine Arena prior to the Australian Boomers vs Philippines FIBA World Cup qualifer tonight” BA secretary general Anthony Moore said in a statement read minutes before the game between the Boomers and Gilas Pilipinas.
"While our concerns over player safety were pure, our actions are not representative of what we expect from representatives of an Australian national team."
The Australian team peeled off the advertisement decals, specifically of main sponsors PLDT, Smart, and Chooks-to-Go from the hardwood on Sunday, claiming these had caused players to slip during a closed-door practice.
That act earned the ire of the local organizing committee (LOC), with officials slamming the Australian basketball team for 'uncultured behavior.'
Moore, though, clarified that the team did not intend to deface the Philippine Arena or even show disrespect to the home team.
“No disrespect was intended and the team has since apologized for the error in judgment to Philippines Basketball, the fans, and FIBA,” the statement ended.
Moreover, Boomers team manager Mark Bradtke said the action may be borne from frustration over a shock 79-78 defeat to Japan last Friday, which was the squad’s first defeat in the two years since it joined the Fiba Asia zone.
“Our intentions were pure in rectifying what was potentially a player safety issue for all participants. As our loss against Japan shows, this is a very tough competition, and we wanted the best environment for all players whose health and safety is critical,” he said.
“We never intended to be disrespectful or to challenge Philippine basketball. The Philippine basketball federation and the players are our friends and neighbors, but also a very tough opponent that we respect very much.”