The Australian Basketballers' Association (ABA) and Basketball Australia released a joint statement on Sunday denying Australia players made racist comments during the fight-marred game between Gilas Pilipinas and Australia at the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan on July 2.
Winston Baltasar, a freelance photojournalist, in an interview with Australia's ABC Radio program The Ticket, said Australian players called Gilas Pilipinas players "monkey" during the game and before the fight. Baltasar, however, could not identify which Australian players he heard using the racial slur.
"The allegations made by Mr Baltasar are unsubstantiated and highly defamatory and we are reviewing our legal avenues to address them," ABA CEO Jacob Holmes said in the statement. "The Boomers pride themselves on their inclusive and diverse composition, just like the country they represent and the comments made by Mr Baltasar and republished by the ABC have caused immense distress to our players."
"We take these allegations against our players extremely seriously and are deeply disappointed the ABC should chose to publish them," Basketball Australia Chief Executive Anthony Moore said in the statement.
In an interview on SportsCenter Phillipines earlier this week, Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes was asked if Australia's players used derogatory terms to describe the Philippines players.
"I didn't hear or didn't have any notion that they were calling our players those terms at halftime," said Reyes. That interview occurred before the specific comments from Baltasar, whose photographs have appeared on ESPN5.com, among other sites.
The Boomers were up 79-48 with 4:01 left in the third period when the game was suddenly halted after a collision between Gilas guard Roger Pogoy and Australian veteran Chris Goulding started what would eventually escalate into an ugly free-for-all. The fight resulted in 13 ejections. The Philippine and Australian basketball federations are awaiting further disciplinary action from FIBA.