PH-Australia brawl ‘unfortunate’: Palace

MANILA — Malacañang on Tuesday described the massive brawl that marred the Gilas Pilipinas-Australia match as “unfortunate” incident.

In Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the bench-clearing melee could have been prevented had the referees handled properly the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers game at the Philippine Arena on Monday in Bocaue, Bulacan.

“We found the whole incident unfortunate. It was of course the height of being unsportsmanlike,” Roque said.

Based on a video that went viral, Australian forward Daniel Kickert downed RR Pogoy with hard elbow to the chin, igniting a bench-clearing fight that happened 4:01 left in the third period and Australia was leading 79-48.

Kickert took revenge when Pogoy shoved Nathan Sobey to the floor. The whistle sounded but it was too late for the referees to stop the free for all.

“It’s something to be sorry about because it should not have happened,” Roque said.

“We do not justify the conduct of our Filipino players, all we’re saying is well it was a truly regretful incident that should have not happened,” he added.

As the results of the incident, nine players from Gilas Pilipinas and four from Australia were ejected.

“In any case, I’m sure FIBA will mete out the sanctions. I hope our players as true sportsmen will honor whatever the decision of FIBA will be, graciously,” Roque said.