WARRANTED or not, the eyes of the basketball world are on the Philippines.
For every shouting match and scuffle that the national team finds itself in, critics will always be quick to remind the team of the infamous brawl against Australia that happened back in July.
And coach Yeng Guiao knows that all too well, that opposing teams will always try to get under the Nationals' skin in hopes of gaining an advantage over them.
"Definitely, they're trying to probably use it against us by trying our patience and our self-control," he said.
That restraint was once again tested on Wednesday when a rugged Jordan team tried to irk the Filipinos in their tuneup game.
Physicality was on a high since the first duel on Monday and the intensity further picked up in this game, with one instance seeing Mohammad Hussein take down Christian Standhardinger.
What triggered the ruckus, though, was Jordanian guard Sinan Eid throwing the ball at Scottie Thompson during a deadball situation, leading to Guiao and counterpart Joseph Stiebing engaging in a shouting match that forced the officials to wave off the friendly midway through the fourth frame.
"Syempre binato ako ng bola, sa harap pa ni coach Yeng so nag-react talaga siya. Di naman niya kailangang gawin yun kasi tinawagan na ako ng referee ng foul," explained Thompson.
Standhardinger also expressed his displeasure on what he felt was a disrespectful act from the opposing side, specifically Steibing, especially when the Philippines had the upper hand, 82-73.
"We already played very physical on Monday and you saw them. They wanted to play even more physical on Wednesday, and the refs, they don’t call it tight. It was a very physical game and that's ridiculous that the opposite coach said something very disrespectful to coach Yeng. After that, they went downhill from then and the game broke out," he said.
"I have to say that I think it’s disrespectful of the opposite coach to disrespect coach Yeng and that’s not okay. I’m happy that we broke up the game because that’s not sportsmanship and that’s not okay."
The opposition may think that the Philippine Arena brawl is reflective of how the Filipinos play the game of basketball, but they can't be farther from the truth.
The players, themselves, know for a fact that their foes are trying to bait them to crack for every hit and missed call they get.
"Halos lahat kaming players, naga-adjust sa calls ng referee at sa physicality ng teams. I think lahat halos, expected namin na talagang sasagarin kami ng mga kalaban dahil sa nangyari in the past, so pinipilit nila na mag-initiate na may mangyari ulit. Pero para sa amin naman, physical lang pero in control naman kami," said Thompson.
Standhardinger agrees, saying: "I think in every game that you play for your country, there’s a lot of intensity from both teams because you wanna do what is necessary to win the game for your countrymen. There will be a lot of dirty plays, so we have to expect that. We have to also expect that the refs don’t see everything, and we gotta play through it. We gonna stand our ground and we gonna stay smart. That’s the most important thing."
Even the Fil-German forward admits that his temper gets the better of him from time to time, but he knows that his self-discipline must always prevail at all times, no matter how tense the situation is.
"We cannot be heated, get all emotional, and get taken off our game -- which happened to me, by the way, last game in the first half. So I have to learn and we have to learn as a team that that cannot rattle us and we just gotta keep going, keep showing puso. But that has to be puso with smartness, with smart plays, and I think we’ll be fine," the San Miguel bruiser said.
After that infamous brawl against the Aussies last July, the Filipino dribblers played thier next home game against Qatar behind closed doors at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, while continuing to be under probation for three years.
For Guiao, he'd rather be the one to take the bullet for this fracas rather than his players as he reiterated that the squabble last Wednesday was very much different to that back in July.
"Wala namang nangyari on the players' side. Actually, ang coaches ang nagkaproblema dito, so I don't think that's going to be a problem in terms of the background of the Australia game," he explained. "It's a totally different context. Ibang iba yung context naman noon and we are conscious of that."
"We are aware of that, and we're very much consciously looking out for those things na makaka-affect sa atin doon sa aspeto na yun. Pero kaya naman ng mga players. Yung coach lang ang hindi may kaya," he ended with a sheepish smile.