Officials and coaches, plus referees, are to blame
By Al S. Mendoza
THE game was doomed from the start.
During warm-up, both teams had physical skirmishes already.
Though accidental in nature, the initial contact escalated into intentional.
One Australian had a shoulder bump against a Filipino during the customary warm-up drill.
The Aussie meant no harm when it happened at midcourt as his bump came on a virtual spin move.
But when the same Aussie was replicating his ritual, he was tripped, surreptitiously, by another Filipino who took offense on the shoulder bump received, accidentally, by his teammate.
“I did it for my brother,” the Filipino player would later justify.
All physicalities happened at centerline.
There is a rule limiting both teams’ movements to their respective courts during warm-ups.
Stepping on the centerline is deemed “trespassing.”
But obviously, players aren’t fully aware of this rule.
Carrying this “bad blood” between both sides when actual play started was the perfect formula for free-for-all, which did, sadly, happen on July 2.
An accident waiting to happen at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
When it erupted, the integrity of the Fiba World Cup qualifiers was tarnished forever.
First, R.R. Pogoy went under an Aussie executing an alley-oop dunk. Dangerous.
Minutes later, Pogoy charged with a protruding elbow into an Aussie surnamed Goulding. Deliberate foul.
Bizarrely, Pogoy made a second motion by decking Goulding with another forearm blast.
This drove Daniel Kickert to attack Pogoy from the blind side with a similar, more vicious, forearm shot.
All hell broke loose, punches and flying kicks dominating the riotous scene.
Sadly, even some Filipino fans joined the fray, aggravated by assistant Gilas coach Jong Uichico’s fist blows against a fallen Aussie.
When the melee was over, nine Filipino players were thrown out against only four Aussies sacked.
Two chief culprits are to blame: Officials to include mainly the coaching staff from both sides and the referees who worked the game.
The coaches should have gathered themselves together to stop the game the very minute they saw some roughhousing happening between both sides.
Isn’t sports a character-developer in the first place, discipline and sportsmanship the main ingredients to it?
Coaches are supposed to be the first to enforce this.
The referees likewise failed miserably in their paramount duty to control the game.
They’ve seen physicalities in the early goings already and, yet, they failed to impose the proper punitive penalties, like throwing out erring players like Pogoy.
The craziest thing about the game is, there was nothing at stake anymore.
Both teams have qualified for the next round.
So, what the hell were they fighting for?
Sometimes, basketball people don’t think right. Or simply refuse to think right?
In the case at hand, sullied even is the honor of the coach—whatever is left of it.
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