THE visiting Australian basketball team angered Philippine organizers on Sunday when it tore off Fiba-approved stickers from the Philippine Arena floor 'unilaterally and without permission' while holding a closed-door practice.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Sonny Barrios confirmed that organizers were slighted after the Boomers removed the stickers from the court where they are scheduled to play Gilas Pilipinas on Monday night.
"Yes, they removed the stickers unilaterally and without permission from local organizers," said Barrios, adding all the stickers from corporate sponsors were all approved by Fiba before they were placed on the court.
Ironically, the Aussies also tried to remove an official Fiba logo on centercourt but failed, witnesses claimed.
SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan later shared a video on his Twitter account showing members of the Australian support team removing the stickers prior to practice.
"Aussie team ripping our/Fiba logos on the court of Phil Arena w/o asking permission. We will not back down. Those stickers go in. Regardless," Pangilinan tweeted on his official page @iammvp.
Barrios said according to the communication from the Australian team, the players complained that the stickers made the court 'slippery.'
"But remember, all those stickers were approved by Fiba before they were placed there," Barrios said. "Besides, it works both ways. Granting na slippery nga, di naman pwedeng madulas sa Australian team at hindi madulas sa mga players natin."
At posting time, a team managers' meeting was taking place to sort out the matter, with the SBP represented by Gilas team manager Butch Antonio, deputy executive director Bernie Atienza and legal counsel Aga Francisco.
However, Barrios said the issue was already reported to Fiba and Fiba Asia by their people on the ground who were there to supervise the qualifier.
"It's really uncalled for and uncultured behavior," Barrios said. "Tayo ba, pupunta ba tayo sa Melbourne at maninira ng gamit doon? Hindi siyempre."