Gilas Pilipinas players and team officials gathered on Tuesday night for a dinner hosted by team sponsor Chooks-to-Go in a hotel in Ortigas.
Each Gilas player was given a microphone to comment on the fight that resulted in 13 ejections during the game between Gilas Pilipinas and Australia at the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan on Monday.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes, assistant coach Jong Uichico, team manager Butch Antonio, and Chooks-to-Go president Ronald Mascariñas were among team officials present at the dinner. Players Japeth Aguilar, Gabe Norwood, Troy Rosario, Terrence Romeo, Calvin Abueva, Roger Pogoy, Jio Jalalon, Allein Maliksi, Baser Amer, Carl Bryan Cruz, and June Mar Fajardo.
Jayson Castro, Matthew Wright, and Andray Blatche were not in attendance.
"After we say our peace now, that's it. You can now put it behind you and focus on the future," Reyes told players. "To put closure to this, I think it'd be a good idea to ask the players individually to say their peace, what they felt. Then we can close this chapter."
The 11 players in attendance spoke.
"Nobody walked into last night thinking that's going to happen," said Norwood, one of the team's longest-tenured members. "At the end of the day we're a brotherhood, we're a family."
"We apologize to the Filipinos, to the fans watching the game. Our intention was to defend our hurt brother (Roger) Pogoy. We're sorry and we hope this won't happen again," Rosario said.
Late in the third quarter of the lopsided contest, Pogoy collided with Chris Goulding, sending the Boomers player to the floor. Daniel Kickert saw his fallen teammate and retaliated with a forearm to Pogoy's head. Madness and chaos ensued.
"First of all, we're asking for forgiveness to all the Gilas fans as well as the fans in Australia on what happened last night, which was not expected," Pogoy said. "But that's just the way it is, we have to move on. I want to thank my teammates, they're genuine teammates. They didn't leave me behind."
Pogoy said he first took offense when Goulding kept trash talking even when the Boomers were up by a large margin.
Some players obviously drew flak from fans and other athletes for participating in the commotion.
Guard Terrence Romeo, who was among the players in the middle of the fracas said it's a tough position for players.
"That's the way it is with us players. For instance, you came to the aid of your teammate, somebody will say 'Why did you join the fight?' And then, if you don't help your teammate, someone else will say, 'Why didn't you help your teammate?'" he said.
Coach Reyes and Gilas Pilipinas sound ready to turn the page but a ruling from FIBA is yet to come.