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Philippines–Australia basketball brawl

A brawl occurred between players of the Philippine and Australian men's national basketball teams during a match held on 2 July 2018 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, Philippines. The match was part of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Asian qualification process.

Philippines vs. Australia
2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup qualification (Asia)
Philippine Arena FIBA Philippines vs Australia.jpg
The Philippine Arena, the venue of the brawl-marred Philippines–Australia match.
Match abandoned with 1:57 remaining in the third quarter due to the Philippines having insufficient eligible players.
123 Total
Philippines 181916 53
Australia 232937 89
Date2 July 2018
VenuePhilippine Arena, Bocaue
  • Ahmed Al-Bulushi (OMA)
  • Hatim Al-Harbi (KSA)
  • Paul Skayem (LIB)

The brawl caused a disruption of the game in the third quarter lasting more than 30 minutes. Officials suspended four Australian players and nine Filipino players and the game was briefly resumed. All but one of the three remaining Filipino players intentionally fouled out prematurely, ending the game within the same quarter. The Philippines lost by default in favour of Australia.

FIBA imposed sanctions on both sides; game suspensions were given to 10 Filipino players (for a maximum of six games) and three Australian players (maximum of five games). The Philippines' head coach and assistant coach were also sanctioned. Both the national federations of the Philippines and Australia were fined. The three referees who officiated at the match were also suspended for a year. Despite the brawl, both Australia and the Philippines advance to the second round of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Asian qualifiers.

The Philippine national team is obliged to play their next home match in the second round of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Asian qualifiers behind closed doors with the succeeding two home games being placed under probation. The brawl also played a part in their withdrawal from the 2018 Asian Games, a decision which was later reversed. Despite of the brawl, both teams managed to qualify for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China.


Road to 2019 FIBA Basketball World CupEdit

For the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, members of FIBA Asia and FIBA Oceania confederations participated in one qualification process. For the first round of the joint Asia and Oceania qualifiers, the Philippines and Australia were drawn part of Group B along with Chinese Taipei and Japan.

The Philippines and Australia first played against each other in the qualifiers in Melbourne. The home side, Australia won over the visitors 84–68. Prior to the start of their second face off, this time in Bocaue, Philippines, the two teams has already qualified for the second round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifiers.

The last FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifier match of the Philippines prior to their second match-up against Australia was against Chinese Taipei away from home. They won the game by 22 points. The Philippines decided to retain 10 players from the Chinese Taipei game for their next match replacing Jio Jalalon and Allein Maliksi with Baser Amer and Carl Bryan Cruz.[2] Australia suffered a 78-79 defeat to Japan prior to their second Philippines game but decided to retain the 12 players in their roster.[3]

Road to 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup (Asia First Round)
Table standings
(Prior to 2 July 2018 games)
Games involving Philippines and Australia
(prior to the brawl)
Date Game Venue
Pos Team Pld W L PF PA PD Pts Qualification
1   Australia (Q) 5 4 1 436 339 +97 9[a] Second round
2   Philippines (Q) 5 4 1 417 393 +24 9[a]
3   Chinese Taipei 5 1 4 358 444 −86 6[b]
4   Japan 5 1 4 361 396 −35 6[b]
Updated to match(es) played on 29 June 2018. Source: FIBA
Rules for classification: 1) Points; 2) Head-to-head results; 3) Points difference; 4) Points scored.
(Q) Qualified to the phase indicated.
  1. ^ a b Australia 84–68 Philippines
  2. ^ a b Japan 69–70 Chinese Taipei
November 24, 2017 Japan   71–77   Philippines Tokyo
Chinese Taipei   66–104   Australia Taipei
November 27, 2017 Australia   82–58   Japan Adelaide
Philippines   90–83   Chinese Taipei Quezon City
February 22, 2018 Australia   84–68   Philippines Melbourne
February 25, 2018 Australia   88–68   Chinese Taipei Melbourne
Philippines   89–84   Japan Pasay
June 29, 2018 Japan   79–78   Australia Chiba
Chinese Taipei   71–93   Philippines Taipei
July 2, 2018 Philippines   TBD   Australia Bocaue

Closed door practiceEdit

There were already tensions between the Australian and Philippine side prior to the start of the brawl-marred game.[4] During the closed-door practice by the Australia national team on 1 July 2018,[5] Australians removed the decals of corporate sponsors PLDT and Chooks-to-Go on the court reportedly due to player safety issues. Officials from the Philippines national basketball association, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) criticized the move stating that the Australians should have asked permission. Philippine head coach Chot Reyes said that the Australians removed the decals for being slippery and added that the decals were approved to use by FIBA. He also mentioned that SBP and FIBA officials were at the venue. Reyes along with SBP official Manny V. Pangilinan posted the video of the act through Twitter expressing displeasure of the move saying that they will "not back down" from the Australians.[6]

Australia apologized for the incident and the SBP accepted the apology. The SBP however maintained that the actions of the Australian side were unacceptable. The decals were restored two hours prior to tip-off.[5]

Pre-game confrontationsEdit

During the pre-game warm-ups, Philippine players began crowding onto the Australian half of the court. Calvin Abueva, a member of the Philippine national basketball team, attempted to trip Australian player Daniel Kickert. Kickert countered back by pushing and shoving another member of the Philippine basketball team whom he thought was the one who had tried to trip him. A short confrontation between the two teams resulted thereafter which had to be defused by the referees before the start of the match.[7] Abueva admitted to trying to trip Kickert but insisted that the Australians were already 'bullying' them even before he did so.[8]

Match detailsEdit

The Australians dominated the match, outscoring the Philippines in all three quarters played. The host was competitive against the visitors in the first quarter until Australia gained a 9-point lead by second quarter. The Philippines never recovered as Australia later achieved a double-digit lead against the hosts. Chris Goulding led the Australians in the scoring by contributing 20 points while Andray Blatche led the Philippines with 12 points.[9]

The three referees who officiated the match were Ahmed Al Bulushi of Oman, Hatim Alharbi of Saudi Arabia and Paul Skayem of Lebanon. Jordanian official Fadi Adnan As’Ad Sabbah was the FIBA game commissioner.[10]

2 July 2018
19:30 (UTC+8)
Philippines   53–89   Australia
Scoring by quarter: 18–23, 19–29, 16–37, game abandoned
Pts: Blatche 12
Rebs: Blatche 10
Asts: Romeo 5
Pts: Goulding 20
Rebs: three players 4
Asts: three players 4
Philippine Arena, Bocaue
Attendance: 22,181
Referees: Ahmed Al-Bulushi (OMA), Hatim Al-Harbi (KSA), Paul Skayem (LIB)


basketball brawl
Date2 July 2018 (2018-07-02)
VenuePhilippine Arena
LocationBocaue, Bulacan
Also known asPhilippines–Australia basketbrawl
CauseAlleged provocation from either sides
Filmed byESPN5
ParticipantsPlayers and officials of the Philippine and Australia national teams, Filipino fans
OutcomeMatch continued after 13 players were ejected but the match was later abandoned after two of three remaining Filipino players intentionally fouled out. See below for more information.

The Philippines was trailing 48–79 when the brawl began. At that time the match was in the third quarter with four minutes and one second left to play.[11] Filipino player Roger Pogoy hit Australian player Chris Goulding with a hard foul. Goulding's teammate Daniel Kickert intervened to retaliate by deliberately charging Pogoy with a hard elbow and forearm.[12] Kickert's response caused Andray Blatche[13] and Jayson Castro to rush to aid Pogoy. Other Filipino players from the bench rushed into the court to join the brawl.[14]

Blatche attempting to throw a punch against Kickert but he was stopped by Australian player Thon Maker who in turn was hit from behind by Filipino player Terrence Romeo.[15] Team officials and members of the audience also got involved in the brawl.[12] A separate incident involved Nathan Sobey who was punched in the face by Jio Jalalon,[14] a Filipino player who was not on the roster.[16] Peter Aguilar, the father of Japeth Aguilar[17] threw a chair at Sobey.[14]

At one point, Filipino players, officials and fans sitting at the court-side rushed in to hurt Goulding who was lying on the floor defending himself.[17] Philippine assistant coach Jong Uichico was seen dropping a chair on Goulding and punching the Australian.[14] Filipino player Troy Rike came to Goulding's defence and stood over him to protect him from further attacks.[17] Australian assistant coach Luc Longley intervened to clear away the people attacking Goulding and Nathan Sobey.[15] Allein Maliksi, another Filipino player not part of the roster like Jalalon, also took part in the brawl.[16]

Marc Pingris was criticized for taking a group selfie of himself and other players and officials of the Philippine national team on-court after the brawl.[18][19]

Match resumption and call offEdit

Ejected players after the brawl
  Philippines[20]   Australia[21]
9 players 4 players
13 players total

The brawl caused a 30-minute stoppage of the match.[21] The referees along with security officials left the court and went to the OB Van of ESPN 5 outside the arena, which was covering the match, to review the brawl from different camera angles. They returned to the court to announce sanctions.[10]

Match officials ruled that 13 players should be ejected before play was resumed. Officials ejected four Australian players[21] and nine Filipino players[20]

This meant that the Philippine national team was left with only three players. The match was resumed despite this, since FIBA rules state that play should continue as long as both teams have more than one player.[21] June Mar Fajardo, Gabe Norwood and Baser Amer were the only Philippine players to remain. Fajardo intentionally fouled out and was followed by Norwood leaving Amer as the last Filipino player on the court[1] to prematurely end the game with one minute and fifty-seven seconds remaining in the third quarter.[9]


The Philippines lost by default due to a lack of eligible players because of the ejection of nine of its players and the remaining players intentionally fouling out. The result of the Philippines-Australia game was allowed to stand. The Philippines ended its first round campaign with four wins and two defeats, both against Australia, settling for second place in Group B while Australia lost only one of its six games topping the group. Both teams advanced to the second round of the qualifiers.[20]

Fearing for their own safety, the Australia national team remained in the Philippine Arena for several hours after the match. They also changed hotels following the game.[22]

A scheduled press conference at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Pasig scheduled for 3 July 2018 was cancelled.[23]


Official statements by involved partiesEdit

Basketball Australia apologized for the brawl, accepting the Australia national team's role in the incident but expressing concern for the involvement of officials and fans in the fight.[24] The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas apologized to Filipino fans and to the international basketball community for the brawl saying that the incident "breached the bounds of traditional Filipino hospitality" and asserting that "violence has no place in sports".[23] Both federations later issued a joint statement apologizing for the brawl and admitting full responsibility for the incident.[25]

Other reactionsEdit

Australia's National Basketball League on their part said while the Australia national team should accept consequences regarding the brawl, they also condemned players, officials, and fans of the Philippine national team, stating what happened to the Australian side following the brawl is unacceptable.[26]

The Philippine Basketball Association on 3 July 2018 invited players of the Philippine national team for a closed-door meeting scheduled on 5 July 2018 to discuss the incident, which could possibly impose its own fines and suspensions to members of the Philippine basketball team who were involved. No similar actions as of late were to be seen from Basketball Australia.[27]

The group selfie took by Filipino player Marc Pingris with the rest of the Philippine national team was criticized as insensitive but head coach Chot Reyes and Quinito Henson said that based on how they knew Pingris personally that the selfie was an attempt to defuse tension.[18][19] Reyes said that he would have stopped Pingris from taking the selfie given the circumstances.[18]

According to Australia head coach Andrej Lemanis, the brawl may cause the National Basketball Association, who is already reluctant to release its players for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifiers, to hesitate even more about releasing its players for international play short of the FIBA Basketball World Cup or the Olympics.[28]

Further allegationsEdit

Closed-door practice sabotageEdit

After the brawl-marred game, Australia's coach Andrej Lemanis accused the Philippines of sabotaging his side's training the day before the match. He stated that when the Australian team went to the training venue, one of the courts in the venue had a rim which was "obviously too high" and when officials came to measure the rim it was too high by 6 to 7 inches (15 to 18 cm). Lemanis then alleged that the people helping them in the court disappeared from the venue. He added that it was then that it became evident to his team that the court was unsafe to play on because of the way the decals were installed while reiterating Australia's early acknowledgement of not following the "correct process" in removing the decals. Lemanis said they decided to remove the decals due to time constraints caused by their limited practice time.[29]


Alleged incidents of racism were raised after the brawl. Winston Baltasar, a Filipino freelance photographer covering the event, alleged that Australian players had used racial slurs against Filipinos during an interview at The Ticket, a radio program of Australia's Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He said that Filipino players had been called "monkeys". The Australian Basketballers' Association and Basketball Australia issued a joint statement calling Baltasar's remarks as "unsubstantiated and highly defamatory" and expressed disappointment with ABC's decision to publish material relating to the remark. In an earlier interview on SportsCenter Philippines, Philippine coach Chot Reyes said that he hadn't heard any incident of Australian players hurling derogatory remarks towards their Filipino counterparts during the half-time of the match.[30]


FIBA opened disciplinary proceedings against both Australia and the Philippines following the brawl.[31] The referee of the match submitted statements and presented evidence to FIBA regarding the match and the brawl[32] and both the basketball federations of Australia and the Philippines were given video copies recording the incident. Both the Australian and Philippine federation were asked by FIBA to submit their own positions stating their sides regarding the brawl by 10 July 2018 but the deadline was later extended to midnight of 13 July 2018 (GMT+6).[33]


Prior to the imposition of sanctions by FIBA, Al Panlilio of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) expressed hope that FIBA would view the incident as an isolated case and not affect the hosting rights of the Philippines for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup. He also expected that both federations of Australia and the Philippines would be fined and that it would be a surprise if FIBA would choose to impose indefinite suspensions of the respective basketball federations of Australia and the Philippines. He pointed to the incident between Serbia and Greece in 2010 as a precedent for his expectation.[34]

On 19 July, FIBA handed down their decision after conducting disciplinary investigation. 10 players from the Philippine basketball team, its coach Chot Reyes and assistant coach Jong Uichico, as well as 3 players from Australia were given suspension from playing future games in the qualifiers (six games maximum).[35] Reyes was suspended for a single match while Uichico was suspended for three games.[36] According to the SBP, FIBA was clear that the ban imposed on the Philippine players does not apply to the national team's planned participation in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, as well as their participation with their respective teams in the Philippine Basketball Association, and that the match suspensions are to served in the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifiers.[37]

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas was fined CHF 250,000 for "unsportsmanlike behavior of its delegation members and of its public, as well as for insufficient organisation of the game"[38] while Basketball Australia was fined CHF 100,000 for removing the court decals prior to the match.[35] The fines will be used to fund FIBA's "Basketball for Good" program.[39]

The Philippines played their next home court match behind closed doors (against Qatar on 17 September, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, with media coverage[40]), while a ban for two more home games as the country have been placed under a probationary period of three years. However, Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios stated if the behind-closed-doors game went well, the homecourt game ban can be possibly lifted and will be open for fans.[41] The country's co-hosting of the 2023 FIBA World Cup is not affected by the sanctions.[35]

The three referees who officiated the brawl-marred match also faced immediate removal from the FIBA Elite Program and suspension from officiating international competitions sanctioned or organized by FIBA for 1 year.[42]


Player sanctions
Match suspension by game - 2019 FIBA World Cup qualification : Asia Second Round
Opponent Date Suspended players
1.   Iran September 13, 2018
  • Abueva
  • Blatche
  • Castro
  • Cruz
  • Jalalon
  • Pogoy
  • Romeo
  • Rosario
  • Aguilar
  • Wright
2.   Qatar September 17, 2018
  • Abueva
  • Blatche
  • Castro
  • Cruz
  • Jalalon
  • Pogoy
  • Romeo
  • Rosario
3.   Kazakhstan November 30, 2018
  • Abueva
  • Blatche
  • Castro
  • Cruz
  • Jalalon
  • Pogoy
  • Romeo
  • Rosario
4.   Iran December 3, 2018
  • Abueva
  • Cruz
  • Jalalon
  • Pogoy
5.   Qatar February 21, 2019
  • Abueva
  • Cruz
  • Jalalon
  • Pogoy
6.   Kazakhstan February 24, 2019 Abueva
Opponent Date Suspended players
1.   Qatar September 13, 2018
  • Goulding
  • Kickert
  • Maker
2.   Kazakhstan September 17, 2018
  • Kickert
  • Maker
3.   Iran November 30, 2018
  • Kickert
  • Maker
4.   Qatar December 3, 2018 Kickert
5.   Kazakhstan February 21, 2019 Kickert
6.   Iran February 24, 2019 None


2019 FIBA World Cup qualificationEdit

Both the Philippines and Australia managed to qualify for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China. The Philippines was forced to revamp its roster for the September 2018 qualification window and Yeng Guiao was appointed as their head coach. The Philippines lost two matches at home in the November 2018 window to Iran and Kazakhstan threatening their bid to qualify for the World Cup. However they managed to secure qualification after winning their two matches away from home in the February 2019 window against Qatar and Kazakhstan. The Philippines qualified as the best fourth placer in the Asian qualifiers and had to rely on South Korea winning over Lebanon in the same qualification window.[44]

Philippines' Asian Games participationEdit

The brawl played a part in the Philippines' withdrawal from the basketball competition of the 2018 Asian Games. Before the brawl incident, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) planned to send a national team composed of the core of the TNT KaTropa of the Philippine Basketball Association. However such plan was cancelled after several players of the ball club along with naturalized player Andray Blatche got involved in the brawl. Though the player suspensions has no bearing in the Asian Games since the sanctions will be served in the next round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifiers, the SBP decided not to include any of players suspended due to the brawl in the Philippines' Asian Games roster.[45]

A plan was devised to send a national team composed of the core of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters instead of TNT with NLEX Road Warriors coach Yeng Guiao to mentor the team. The Philippine Basketball Association officially announced the participation of Rain or Shine in the Asian Games on 26 July 2018 with the SBP declaring on the same day that the Philippine national team's withdrawal from the continental games saying that it and the national team intends "regroup, prepare for the process of appealing the FIBA Disciplinary Panel's recent decision, and aim for sustainable success in future tournaments."[46]

The decision to withdraw was reversed on 5 August 2018 due to "clamor from fans".[47]

2019 FIBA World Cup performanceEdit

For the Philippines national team, the brawl became the start of a downward spiral. The Filipinos finished last at 32nd place during the World Cup in China, missing their chance of qualifying for the 2020 Summer Olympics, extending their Olympic basketball drought to 48 years.

Australia went on to clinch the fourth place spot at the World Cup. The Boomers also managed to qualify for the Olympics as the best Oceania team.

See alsoEdit


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  2. ^ Lintag, Paul (1 July 2018). "Amer added to Gilas for Australia rematch". ABS-CBN Sports. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  3. ^ Zarate, Noel (2 July 2018). "Australia to use same lineup in Japan loss against Gilas". ESPN. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  4. ^ Naredo, Camille (2 July 2018). "FIBA World Cup: After bench-clearing brawl, Gilas loses by default to Australia". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
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  6. ^ "Australians remove PLDT decals from PH Arena court". ABS-CBN News. 1 July 2018. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  7. ^ "What really sparked brawl madness". NewsComAu. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
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