BOCAUE, Bulacan -- The much-anticipated Gilas Pilipinas match against Australia in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifier at the Philippine Arena on Monday night ended in disaster as a fight resulting in 13 ejections broke out in the third quarter. The Philippines lost the game by default.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes defended his players, saying that only those within the team know the full details of what transpired.
"I understand the disappointment, I understand that some are embarrassed, but you don't know what happened. You have to be in the team, you have to be in our circle to really understand what went down," he said.
FIBA began disciplinary proceedings against both teams, and Reyes said Gilas is ready to accept whatever sanctions are coming.
"It's up to FIBA in the end, but we have to face those consequences because it is what it is," said Reyes. "But one thing that they have to know about this team is that we're not going to back down. This team remains solid, we have each other's back and we have each other."
Reyes is also President and CEO of TV5 Network and Media5. Reyes told media after the game that the commotion began during warm-ups when Australia's Daniel Kickert started pushing some players.
"Well it's unfortunate, we didn't want it to happen. It's absolutely unacceptable," Reyes said. "But the reality is that Kickert was hitting our players during the warm-ups. He hit Carl Bryan Cruz, he hit Matthew Wright, [Roger] Pogoy and he hit Calvin Abueva."
Reyes said these incidents prior to tipoff triggered the entire brawl in the third frame.
"So when [Kickert] did that, the foul of Pogoy on [Christopher] Goulding was an offensive foul, it was a basketball play, but he was the one who came in and decked Pogoy. You don't expect to do it to a team five times and not expect [the team] to retaliate," Reyes said.
Reyes had warned his players to stay focused despite the physical play.
"We already restrained the players before the game, we already told them to ignore it when Kickert did all of those things at the start during the warm-ups," he said. "We already told them to focus on the game, but you know, after that, when he did that in the third quarter, it's hard to restrain them anymore."