BASKETBALL Australia CEO Anthony Moore apologized for Australia’s role in Monday night’s brawl between the Boomers and Gilas Pilipinas, but found actions by officials and fans against two of their players 'unacceptable.'
Moore said he deeply regretted the brawl triggered by Australia big man Daniel Kickert's elbow to RR Pogoy's head in the third quarter of their Fiba Basketball World Cup Asian qualifier at the Philippine Arena.
“We deeply regret the incident that occurred last night and our role in it,” said Moore during a press conference in Australia. “It is something that, we don’t play that game in that spirit. Our game against Japan on Friday was a thrilling match, one-point loss. But it was played in an incredible spirit and conduct by both teams. Last night’s game was anything but.”
Moore, however, codemned the action of fans and officials who got involved in the melee after seeing Boomers forward Chris Goulding under a pile of players and team officials during the melee, and Nic Sobey being hit by a chair thrown by a fan.
“What we don’t accept is the action in which fans and officials actually get involved. You’ve seen on social media some of our players being assaulted by a fan and we got Chris Goulding, one of our players, on a pack of players and officials prying on the court.”
“We also got a fan throwing a chair on our players. We find that unacceptable,” said Moore.
“It was alarming. It was absolutely alarming when you see a congregation of players at the end of the court and saying, ‘Is one of our players actually under it?’ I watched it on TV so it was absolutely alarming to think that one of our players are surrounded by about 20 people with a significant amount of physical altercations occurring,” said Moore.
Fiba has launched a disciplinary hearing over the incident and Moore said Basketball Australia will definitely be addressing the issue with Fiba.
“We are waiting for Fiba for their findings and sanctions. That is certainly the issue that we will be addressing with Fiba,” said Moore.
"I can't speculate on what the sanctions will be because we're actually in new territory in this regard," Moore added. "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 Australian players were later helped to leave the arena, board a bus and return to their hotel by representatives of the Australian embassy, who Moore said has also facilitated their departure for Australia.
“I can’t overstate this, the issue of our players safety. We had our players, team managers, and coaches fearing for their physical well-being. It is really a compelling set of circumstance that, Are we going to be out of here unscathed,” said Moore.
“Again, working with consular officials to get us out of there, get us on the bus, and get us on the team hotel. There was a heightened sense of anxiety…,” said Moore.
Moore also refused to rule out filing criminal charges over the fracas.
“It’s something premature. We want to work with Fiba on the tribunal and get that outcome and then we will assess. We have briefed our lawyers … But that is something that we will address,” said Moore.