The CEO of Basketball Australia said the organisation “absolutely and categorically” rejects claims from the Philippines’ coach that an Australian player preemptively provoked the bench-clearing brawl which marred last night’s FIBA World Cup qualifier.

The fight, which saw 13 players ejected from the game in Manila, was sparked when the Philippines’ Roger Pogoy launched an aggressive foul on Australia’s Chris Goulding.

Boomer Daniel Kickert retaliated by throwing an elbow towards Pogoy’s head, which lead to the Filipino bench taking to the court for an all-hands-on-deck fight.

After the incident, Filipino coach Chot Reyes told news website Rappler that the brawl was “totally unacceptable”, but claimed Kickert’s actions during warm-ups stoked tension between the teams.

“The reality is that Kickert [was] hitting our players during the warm-ups,” Reyes said.

“He hit Carl Bryan Cruz, he hit Matthew Wright, Pogoy and he hit Calvin Abueva during the warm-ups.”

Discussing Kickert’s elbow during the game, Reyes said “he was the one who came in and decked Pogoy. 5th time. You don’t expect to do it to a team 5 times and not expect to to retaliate.”

Speaking to Sky News, Basketball Australia chief Anthony Moore denied those claims, saying “there is absolutely nothing from our perspectives and our discussions so far with our athletes and our coaches that anything untoward happened in the warm-up.

“The teams are in different ends of the field of play, with the referees in the middle. So, we find that an extraordinary allegation.” 

Moore said Basketball Australia would support Kickert and other Boomers who are likely to face sanctions from FIBA over the incident.

Aussie basketballer Thon Maker, who was also ejected from the game, has issued a statement saying his involvement in the fight was borne of a desire to protect his teammates.

Expect word on potential sanctions against Kickert, Maker, and the other Australian players in the days to come.

Source: Sky News
Image: Mark R. Cristino / EPA