BOCAUE, Bulacan – A free-for-all marred the Philippines' game against Australia on Monday night at the Philippine Arena, easily the worst fight to happen in an international basketball game hosted by the country in a long time.
The visiting Boomers were comfortably ahead, 79-48, with 4:01 minutes left in the third quarter when a physical encounter between Gilas Pilipinas' RR Pogoy and Aussie Chris Goulding sparked a melee that emptied both benches.
Already hot-tempered at that point, no thanks to taunts and trash-talking from both sides, the game degenerated into a full-blown fight after a charging Aussie slotman Daniel Kickert knocked down Pogoy to the floor with an elbow.
At the height of the scuffle, Kickert found himself at the receiving end of punches from Andray Blatche and Jayson Castro. Another teammate, Nathan Sobey, got lynched underneath the Philippine basket by Gilas players.
NBA player Thon Maker was also seen throwing a flying kick at Terrence Romeo - and missing - after he was sucker-punched from behind by the Gilas guard.
Bottles were also thrown before security officers managed to put the situation in order.
At posting time, referees left the court to discuss penalties on both sides as Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio spoke in the PA system in a bid to calm the crowd.
“I just want to appeal to everybody to settle down. We're hosting this game and this is basketball. Please respect the game and make our visitors feel safe in the arena,” he said.
After a long delay, nine Gilas players and four from Australia were thrown out, leaving only three - June Mar Fajardo, Gabe Norwood and debutant Baser Amer - to finish the rest of the game for the host team.
The ejected Gilas players were Romeo, Carl Bryan Cruz, Castro, Calvin Abueva, Blatche, Troy Rosario, Japeth Aguilar, Matthew Wright. The Aussies who were disqualified were Goulding, Sobey, Kickert and Maker.