FIBA penalties nothing but an airball

Boomers brawl

Thon Maker has received a three match ban for his role in the brawl. Image: ABC.

Australia’s toxic culture of coward punches has rightly seen many men jailed for their horrible actions. Sporting heroes such as Danny Green and the Australian Government have launched different programs aimed at preventing violent acts that can affect a lifetime.

If the world basketball governing body, FIBA, is to be believed, cowardly acts like a king hit matter little after they determined the maximum penalty for such an act to be six games.

Not months or years, just a paltry six games.

Following the Australia/Philippines brawl that occurred midway through the fourth quarter of their FIBA World Cup qualifying match on 2 July 2018, thirteen total players were suspended for their part in the melee that garnered international headlines.

For the Philippines, Japeth Aguilar and Matthew Wright received a one-game suspension, Terence Romeo, Jayson Castro William, Andray Blatche and Jeth Rosario each got three-games, Roger Pogoy, Carl Cruz and Jio Jalalon got five games and Calvin Abueva was punished with a six-game suspension.

Head coach Vincent Reyes was suspended one game and fined $13,606 AUD and assistant coach Joseph Uichio for three games, both for unsportsmanlike behaviour.

While none received warranted suspensions, the Philippines national federation were sanctioned for unsportsmanlike behaviour from officials and fans, a lack of sufficient organisation (adequate security being one), will play their next game behind closed doors and fined $340,148 AUD.

Australia’s Thon Maker and Daniel Kickert were rightly suspended for three and five matches respectively. Maker tried to separate the Philippines players from fellow Australians with several running knees while Kickert’s elbow to Roger Pogoy kicked off the melee.

While both players can make the argument they were backing up and protecting teammates, their actions were still wrong.

But despite the abhorrently low punishments for the Philippines players involved in the brawl, the suspension drawing the most ire of fans, players and officials is Chris Goulding’s one-game ban.

Deemed to have incited unsportsmanlike behaviour, Goulding is set to miss Australia’s next game.

How he incited such behaviour only FIBA knows, as Goulding’s role in the incident was that of a victim. He was first pushed hard to the ground, the act that led to Kickert’s elbow. Then, as the brawl erupted, he was set upon, bashed and kicked while on the ground doing nothing more than protecting himself.

If what happened to Goulding, the 2017/18 NBL Finals MVP, occurred on the street then the Philippines players would be facing jail time.

Basketball Australia (BA) were also fined $136,071 AUD for the “unsportsmanlike behaviour of its players and for abuse and/or tampering of equipment, after having removed floor stickers from the court on the eve of the game.”

FIBA’s comical handling of the punishments sets a dangerous precedent that brawls and fights will only result in light punishments, or in the case of Goulding, being punished simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

BA released a statement from Chief Executive Officer Anthony Moore earlier today stating that while they have 14 days to appeal the suspensions, it is “unlikely we will do so.” Moore added that Australia’s basketball governing body is seeking clarification from FIBA “about possible sanctions against other officials and fans involved in the incident.”

Whether Australia appeals the suspensions or not, it is unlikely that this is the last time the issue will be brought up. The next time these two nations meet, it will be a fiery affair.


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