Australia

'Sickening': Australia's Boomers in wild qualifier brawl with Philippines

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Objects hurled, punches thrown, 13 players ejected. Australia's World Cup qualifying clash was marred by violence, stunning fans and commentators.

An ugly brawl has marred Australia's 89-53 FIBA World Cup qualifying win over the Philippines in Bulacan.

Tensions boiled over with four minutes remaining in the third quarter with players and officials from both sides, plus a number of unruly fans, flooding the court at the Philippine Arena on Monday night.

The Boomers were cruising to victory with a 79-48 lead when Philippines guard Roger Pogoy suddenly lashed out at Chris Goulding with an errant elbow.

Teammate Daniel Kickert's aggressive retaliation on Pogoy then sparked an all-in brawl that included punches, elbows, kicks, and objects hurled at players.

After a delay of over 30 minutes, the match officials assessed the melee with 13 players ejected - nine from the Philippines plus Boomers Goulding, Kickert, Thon Maker and Nathan Sobey.

Christopher Goulding (L) lies on the ground as Daniel Kickert (2-L) of Australia elbows Roger Pogoy (C) of the Philippines
Christopher Goulding (L) lies on the ground as Daniel Kickert (2-L) of Australia elbows Roger Pogoy (C) of the Philippines

The match was restarted despite the Philippines being left with only three players to take the court, with FIBA rules stating the game must continue unless a team only has a single player available.

But the home side began deliberately fouling the Australians until they were left with one player, bringing the farcical situation to an end with two minutes left in the third quarter.

The victory means that Australia finishes on top of Asian Zone Group B with five wins from six matches though both teams had already progressed to the second stage of qualification.

But the fallout from this shocking incident could have huge ramifications for both nations ahead of the next round of qualifiers with FIBA sure to hand out severe punishments. The reaction in Australia and around the world has been largely shock and disgust, with Fox News commentator Matt Russell describing it as "sickening".

FIBA issued a statement saying that it will "open disciplinary proceedings against both teams". An announcement about any further discipline will be made in the coming days.

Basketball Australia chief executive Anthony Moore said in a statement: "Basketball Australia deeply regrets the incident in tonight's match between the Boomers and the Philippines in Manila. We are extremely disappointed with what happened and our role in it," Moore said.

A brawl between Philippine and Australian players during the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifier game.
In this photo taken July 2, 2018, a general shot of the brawl between Philippine and Australian players during their FIBA World Cup Asian qualifier game.
AFP

"This is not the spirit in which sport should be played and certainly not in the spirit in which we aim to play basketball. We apologise to our fans and will await the penalties to be handed down."

The National Basketball League (NBL) owner and executive chairman Larry Kestelman said the "disgraceful behaviour" from fans and officials needed to be dealt with in the "strongest possible manner".

“Our players need to accept responsibility for what happened on the court and any sanctions that follow.

"However we do not accept what happened on the sidelines when Australian players were attacked by fans and officials including a chair being thrown at one of the Boomers’ players Nathan Sobey and another player Chris Goulding set upon on the floor.
 
“This disgraceful behaviour needs to be dealt with by FIBA in the strongest possible manner and we will await the outcome of their investigation."

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