THE International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has set the tone for the Philippines and Australia to get their acts together.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio disclosed the joint statement the federation and counterpart Basketball of Australia issued Thursday morning regarding the unfortunate incident that marred their FIBA World Cup qualifier was upon the suggestion of FIBA secretary-general Patrick Baumann.
Panlilio said Baumann personally called on him Wednesday and along their conversation, the FIBA executive asked him about making a joint statement with Australia.
“He suggested if we are willing to have a joint statement on the incident, a statement of regret and unity and that basketball should bring people together rather than divide them,” said the SBP head Thursday as he joined members of the Gilas team who held a closed-door meeting with PBA Commissioner Willier Marcial at the league headquarters in Libis.
“Actually, he called and asked not about what happened but more on ensuring but more ensuring that cooler heads will prevail and the atmosphere will be better than the time Australia left Manila last July 3.
It didn’t take long for FIBA to have both parties come on the same page.
“By midnight (of Thursday), we already had a draft. We have no direct communication (with Australia), only through email,” said Panlillio. “By morning, we had the statement that only needed minor editing.”
“We wish to apologize to the entire basketball community worldwide – and in particular, our fantastic fans in the Philippines and Australia – for the behavior displayed for bringing the game of basketball into disrepute,” part of the statement read.
“We fully accept our responsibility and are collaborating in the ongoing proceedings to investigate the incidents.”
Joining Panlilio in the meeting that lasted only more than a hour were Marcial, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) secretary-general Patrick Gregorio, league technical head Eric Castro, and PBA lawyer Melvin Mendoza.
Except for naturalized player Andray Blatche, all of the Gilas players were present including reserves Jio Jalalon and Allein Maliksi.
Panlilio added both the SBP and Basketball Australia have been given a July 10 deadline by FIBA to submit their respective positions on the full-blown brawl that marred their game at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, which the Boomers won, 89-53.
“Submission should be done by next week, although I don’t know how long it will take them to process the thing,” said the SBP president.
“Maybe by the end of the month, at least they should have a decision. But again, that’s only my estimate,” said Panlilio, who is also a member of the PBA board representing Meralco.
“Knowing FIBA, they will swiftly go through the process and make a decision.”