Australia heads home from Philippines early after World Cup qualifier brawl




The Boomers are leaving the Philippines earlier than scheduled after their World Cup men's basketball qualifier against the host country descended into chaos with 13 players ejected after an ugly mass brawl.

Basketball's international governing body has opened disciplinary proceedings with heavy sanctions likely to affect both teams following last night's disgraceful scenes, which included punching, kicking and a chair thrown.

The Boomers defeated the Philippines 89-53 to top their Asian qualifying group in a match that had to end early when the hosts ran out of players shortly after the third quarter ejections.

Australia had held a comfortable 79-48 lead when a brutal off-the-ball foul from Philippines player Roger Pogoy on Australian guard Chris Goulding, followed by an apparent elbow to the face in retaliation from teammate Daniel Kickert, saw the game erupt into madness with both benches clearing.

Basketball Australia Chief Executive Anthony Moore said the team would depart the Philippines on Tuesday morning instead of later in the day as planned.

"Players and coaches were fearful of their physical safety, that's how significant the issue was," Moore told SEN radio.

"Nathan Sobey was assaulted, there's no other word for it, by a fan, a court- side fan and having a chair thrown.

"The most alarming part to us was that it escalated out of the players side, into fans and officials."

As officials tried to restore order, the situation intensified as unruly fans invaded the court to hurl objects at the players, and play was suspended for over 30 minutes while match officials attempted to review the incident.

Philipino coach Chot Reyes said the brawl was "absolutely unacceptable", but alleged he had to restrain his players before the game because of Kickert.

"Kickert was hitting our players during the warm-up," he said.

"The foul of Pogoy on Goulding was called a foul ... but he (Kickert) was the one who came in and he decked Pogoy for the fifth time.

"You can't expect to do that to a team for five times and not expect (them) to retaliate."

Moore rejected the claim, saying "there was nothing like that in the first half that even indicated that this was about to happen".

Commentator and former Boomer Shane Heal said the Australians were "defending" themselves, although he noted that Kickert "has a serious case to answer".

"We heard their coach at one stage in a huddle as they were being beaten at 30 points, instructing them to hit them. I'm sure he didn't mean it to the extent that we saw," Heal told Channel Seven.

"They have to have some of those officials banned, you would think, for life."

Basketball's international governing body FIBA tweeted that the decisions from its disciplinary proceedings would be communicated in coming days.

Nine Philippines were ejected from the game along with Australians Goulding, Kickert, Sobey and Thon Maker.

The Philippines were left with only three eligible players but the match continued until two of their players deliberately fouled out to end the contest.

Scheduled post-match press conferences for both teams were cancelled in the aftermath of the incident.

Moore issued a statement following the match to apologise for the Boomers' involvement in the violent incident, saying BA were "extremely disappointed" with what happened.

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