A wrong is a wrong

By Henry Liao July 05,2018
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A wrong is a wrong

By Henry Liao July 05,2018
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ANY moment now, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) will hand out its decision regarding the full-blown melee that erupted midway through the third quarter of Australia’s game-shortened 89-53 shellacking of the Philippines in a World Cup qualifying game last July 2 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan that saw the ejection of 13 players, including nine from the host country.

These players will soon find out the consequences of their roles in the fisticuffs as a suspension is expected to be meted against all the erring players and a reprimand issued to the Philippines’ coaching staff for its role in the melee. Perhaps the national basketball federations of both countries may be held liable for the brawl.

For how will the FIBA look in the eyes of the international basketball community if it does not do anything to stop court hooliganism?

After professional player Kiefer Ravena’s 18-month suspension for violations of the anti-doping policy, is another punishment from the FIBA coming the country’s way?

Granting the Australians were arrogant and abrasive in their actions on and off the court, and they sure were, we ourselves can’t act just as worse, more so when we were the hosting country.

A wrong is a wrong. When a wrong is done unto you, do not correct it with another wrong for it does not make it right.

An eye for eye, a tooth for a tooth? Retaliation is never the answer to the bullying by the Aussies for violence has no place in sports.

Let the Aussies do their worst but let’s put our best foot forward.

Unquestionably, the players from both sides that took part in the free-for-all need to be punished. That includes Aussies Chris Goulding, Daniel Kickert, the NBA Milwaukee Bucks’ Thon Maker and Nathan Sobey.

Maker, a Milwaukee Bucks player in the National Basketball Association, should have known better than engage in a barbaric act that could result in a FIBA suspension. His flying kicks are better reserved in another sport in his native Sudan.

The three referees from Oman, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon failed to control the physical game from the get-go and this eventually escalated into an ugly scuffle.

Security was lax so much so spectators like decommissioned player Gio Jalalon and ex-pro Peter Aguilar, the father of current player Japeth, were able to join the melee while some fans threw bottles on the court.

And what about the behavior of the Filipinos’ coaching staff?

There was team assistant coach Jong Uichico, who was shown on video throwing some punches from the bench even as Allein Maliksi, another decommissioned player, was pinning down a fallen Aussie.

You are a coach and your role is to pacify agitated players and prevent them from entering the court during a fight. Only June Mar Fajardo, Baser Amer and Gabe Norwood did not come off the bench to join the fray. In contrast, all of the Aussies’ seven bench players stayed put.

Uichico eventually issued an apology for his actions and that was well and good.

But head coach Chot Reyes remained adamant that his players, being abused in various times, was correct in retaliating simply because we don’t know his team. For his information, the name in front of their uniforms is OUR Pilipinas, not simply the players on your team and nobody else. They represent the flag, first and foremost.

And what do you mean, when you were caught on television, to utter the words “Hit somebody. Put somebody on his ass” during a timeout prior to the brawl. Some claimed it was a figure of speech but for it to be heard by his players and the TV viewers could have produced a different perspective.

And, through the decades, I have heard some coaches telling their players to “bigyan mo ng isa.”

It all began when Roger Pogoy charged into an Aussie defender then the mate of the latter retaliated with a blow to the head of Pogoy that spurred the full-blown brawl.

What was despicable was what Jalalon and Peter Aguilar did as spectators. (Aguilar’s son Japeth, one of the nine PH players thrown out, has since issued an apology for his own transgression and again, that’s well and good.)

In civvies and with a baseball cap on, Jalalon came off his seat to sucker-punch a stand-still Aussie player during a post-melee lull when there was no provocation at all.

And then there was Peter Aguilar throwing a metal chair in the direction of another Australian player.
This is totally acceptable. What were the security officials doing – simply enjoying the brawl?
Our ability to host a FIBA-sanctioned tournament in the future may have been compromised with the lax security inside the arena.

What happened here was a blackeye in the international basketball community.

Our national basketball federation SBP needs to apologize to the FIBA for this shameful incident.
We can only hope the hosting rights (along with Indonesia and Japan) to the 2023 World Cup are not taken away from us.

Time for a deep reflection by the basketball leadership and the national team players.

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