Just when we thought the biggest basketball shock of the week would be LeBron James signing with the LA Lakers, the Australian Boomers World Cup qualifier against the Philippines has erupted.
With about 4 minutes to go in the third quarter Philippines player Roger Ray Pogoy heavily shoved Australian star Chris Goulding, attracting an elbow from Daniel Kickert in retaliation. This seemed to be a signal for an all in brawl, with the Filipino bench and coaching staff rushing the Australian players on court.
Punches were being thrown at any Australian on the court as Kickert was chased by the Philippines bench, while Goulding was thrown to the ground and punched. Boomers guard Nathan Sobey was hit by a thrown chair, pinned under it, and punched by a number of Philippines players. Australian Thon Maker was seen kicking opposition players away from him as he tried to rescue Sobey, while Boomers assistant coach Luc Longley resembled a rugby player clearing a ruck as he cleared Filipino players off Goulding.
Throughout the brawl NBA star Matthew Dellavedova kept his Boomers teammates on the bench off the court, protecting them from any fallout. Four Australians (Goulding, Kickert, Sobey and Maker) were ejected from the court, as were nine Filipinos. Kickert is the only one likely to face any suspension, with the NBA (where Maker plays) not covered by rulings from FIBA.
Philippines coach Jong Uichico has apologised for his role, having told his players seconds before the fight started to “hit somebody, put somebody on their arse”. He was also involved in the brawl.
After a lengthy delay while the officials decided who to send off, the match restarted – with 3 Philippines players left against 5 Boomers on court and 3 on the bench (mainly thanks to Dellavedova keeping the Australian bench off the court). The remaining Filipinos gave away professional fouls until they were down to a single player in order to have the match called off just before the end of the third quarter.