SBP accepts sanctions but will 'seek clarifications'

(UPDATED) The Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP) is in the process of reviewing FIBA's decision Thursday to issue bans to 10 Philippines players for their roles in the ugly brawl with Australia during their game on July 2 in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

In a press conference Thursday, SBP President Al Panlilio said that the Philippine basketball federation accepts the sanctions meted by FIBA, which includes suspensions of players and coaches and hefty fines.

The SBP, however, is still clarifying some facts with FIBA and will decide within the next 14 days if an appeal will be made.

"SBP accepts the disciplinary panel's decision and extends its appreciation to the panel for its work. The decision is a lengthy document. The SBP is in the process of carefully reviewing it," said Panlilio. "The Executive Committee of the SBP will be convened soon to determine if it would avail of the appeal's procedure provided under the decision."

"The next step for us is to review [the decision] very well. There are some facts that I think we want to clarify. We want to make sure that we're on the same page and once that's done, we'll take a look at the next step - whether we proceed with the formal appeal," said Panlilio.

Among the things that the SBP would like to clarify are the details of the probationary period.

"The original sanction was three home games will be played behind closed doors but what they did was at least the first game will be closed door. That's gonna be the Qatar game in September," noted Panlilio. "They have suspended implementing the next two games on closed doors but the SBP will be under a probationary period of three years. But I think that's something that we need to clarify in more detail."

The SBP is also looking to get more details on the breakdown of the hefty disciplinary fine that the national federation needs to pay.

"SBP is the federation so it has oversight on everything. The 250,000 (Swiss Francs) was broken down in two aspects - 150 was more on the behavior of the delegation so it's on the team and the coaches, and the 100 was more on the venue in terms of security and lapses thereof if ever," explained Panlilio.

Moreover, the SBP wishes to clarify the heavy six-game suspension imposed on Calvin Abueva. The rest of the Gilas players were suspended for a maximum of five games.

"There was a commotion during the warm-ups, and on top of that, there was a previous altercation that Calvin had in the FIBA Asia Cup [2017] where he head-butted an opponent. Maybe, it's because he was a repeat offender so that added a little bit of weight," shared Panlilio.

Depending on the result of its comprehensive review of the 13-page ruling, the SBP will decide if an appeal will be made and which sanctions will be included.

Panlilio furthered that FIBA's decision is specific to the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, which means that other tournaments, including the PBA and the Asian Games, will not be affected.

"If you look at the decision, it's very clear it says FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers. But having said that, in fact even before the sanctions have come out, we at the PBA, with chairman Ricky Vargas and commissioner Willie Marcial and the governors, have actually started talking about it, at least for an option B just in case these sanctions do happen," shared Panlilio.

"Even prior to this decision being handed out, there are discussions already in the PBA," Panlilio went on. "We are exploring things with the PBA as an option B. [Regarding] the participation in the Asian Games, we have to make a decision in the next few days but of course, we want to make sure that we also support the POC (Philippine Olympic Committee)."

The original lineup for the Philippines to the Asian Games included eight players from the TNT KaTropa.

The Philippines' hosting of the 2023 World Cup was also not mentioned in the 13-page ruling released by the world governing body.

The SBP reiterated its apologies to Filipino fans and the whole basketball community, assuring its commitment to prevent any similar incident from happening in the future.

"Once again, SBP, together with the Gilas national basketball team, apologize to our countrymen and to the basketball community at large for our conduct in the incident. We reaffirm the principle of no-violence of any form on the basketball court or off it," Panlilio said.

"We appreciate that the game of basketball is of such importance in the hearts of every Filipino, and in that light, we wish to assure our countrymen and FIBA that we'll work to raise our hosting standards to a higher level as befits the traditional hospitality accorded to guests by our people."