This time two years ago, basketball fans from across the globe were stunned by what they witnessed in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers after the national men's basketball teams Australia and host Philippines figured in a brawl at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.
After an investigation, FIBA suspended 10 Gilas players, three Boomers, and two Philippine coaching staff members and issued stiff fines to both countries' basketball federations amounting to a combined P20 million, with the succeeding Philippine home game (against Qatar) played behind closed doors.
Following the closed-door victory against the Qataris, the Philippines eventually suffered two home defeats against Iran and Kazakhstan, but ultimately booked its slot in the World Cup by triumphing over Qatar and the Kazakhs on the road, and benefitting from a Korea victory over Lebanon.
Two years later, Gilas has undergone several changes, and while some of the characters are still on the national team, some are no longer part of the program. The same can be said about the Boomers. What's clear though is that both sides have moved on from the incident.
Let's check on what has happened to those involved, two years after.
Of the 10 Filipino players suspended by FIBA, only two remain with the national team during the lone match-up the country played against Indonesia in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers: Troy Rosario and RR Pogoy.
Along with Rosario and Pogoy, Japeth Aguilar and naturalized center Andray Blatche still suited up for the Philippines during the 2019 FIBA World Cup competition in China.
Of the three players who did not receive sanctions, June Mar Fajardo also played in China then went on to win a gold medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, while skipper Gabe Norwood retired from international competition following Gilas' early exit in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Guard Baser Amer was never again selected to the national team.
As for the coaches, head coach Chot Reyes (who incurred a one-game suspension for allegedly verbally instigating the subsequent melee) stepped down even prior to the second round of the qualifiers and was succeeded by Yeng Guiao, who eventually resigned after the 2019 World Cup. He was succeeded by Tim Cone for the Philippines' hosting of the Southeast Asian (SEA Games), while present TNT KaTropa coaching consultant Mark Dickel was tapped to handle the national squad's campaign for the 2021 FIBA Asia qualifiers.
Assistant coach Jong Uichico, who received a three-game ban for his actions, now spearheads the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas' (SBP) efforts to bring coaching seminars to different provinces in the country. Uichico has repeatedly expressed his regret over what happened and has also moved on. He told ESPN5.com, "There is no correct in what happened. You can just find meaning to it."
Goulding still plays in the National Basketball League (NBL) for Melbourne United and is still an integral part of the Boomers, while slot man Thon Maker had some meaningful moments with the Detroit Pistons before the current NBA season was halted. However, Maker has not been tapped for national team duty since the incident.
Daniel Kickert, who was in the middle of the scuffle, has also not been reactivated by the Boomers after serving out his five-game international ban. He was eventually also sanctioned by the NBL in another occurrence during their 2018 season. He, too, has never donned the national colors since the incident.
The Boomers went on the finish fourth in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
The SBP has taken stringent measures to ensure the safety of visiting contingents and the viewing public as well as to train its game officials to prevent a repeat of what happened. The Philippines is still among the three nations tasked to host the 2023 FIBA World Cup, along with Indonesia and Japan, and preparations are in full swing.
As for the national team program of the SBP, a youth movement has dawned.
Rosario and Pogoy were the only remnants from the 2018 team that beat Indonesia, 100-70, in February in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers. They were joined by youngsters Matt Nieto, Dwight Ramos, Juan Gomez de Liaño and Thirdy Ravena. The program is also now in search of a new naturalized player to replace the aging Blatche. Fajardo is still on the mend from a leg injury, but he remains a key component in the Gilas' future plans.
Australia also kicked off its FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers campaign on a high note, drubbing Hong Kong 115-52, also last February. Like Gilas, the Boomers also paraded a new, young lineup with an average age of 25. One of the players was 2018 veteran Nathan Sobey.
In all, both federations have put the unfortunate mishap behind them and have worked to heal the wounds. In 2019, the NBL's Adelaide 36ers flew in for a couple of tune-up matches with the World Cup-bound Gilas quintet. The Philippines and Australia have genuinely moved on.