The world cannot stop talking about the recent melee that happened between the Philippines and Australia at the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers.
How exactly did an international basketball game turn into a fighting match? Guess what? It all started with the word “monkey”.
Calling anyone monkey just shows a total lack of respect. The Filipino players were already holding back their emotions. When Australian player Daniel Kickert intentionally came charging and planted an elbow on Gilas Pilipinas player Roger Pogoy, the natural reaction of the Gilas team was to defend their teammate.
If you watch the video clearly, the first player to come charging was Andre Blanche followed by Jason Castro. Then everyone jumped into the fray.
Different opinions have surfaced. Some say the Filipino players should have kept their composure, others say they were right to give the Australians what they asked for. Former PBA Player Atoy Co aired his views on the matter and did not agree with the actions of the Gilas players, especially the selfie after the melee.
Some quarters have even blamed Gilas Coach Chot Reyes for his instructions.
As a columnist who has followed sports especially basketball for a long time, let me tell you this, what Coach Chot Reyes said was basketball lingo. He was just giving instructions for his players to be more aggressive defensively.
So how did this all start? The Australian basketball team lost to Japan and a few days before they were to face the host country, the Philippines, they pulled off the decals at the Philippine Arena without seeking permission from the Organizing Committee. Isn’t the action of the Australian team a show of disrespect for the host country?
People can say all they want to say. You cannot blame Gilas Pilipinas for how they reacted. They just exploded like a volcano. They are humans, hurt by emotions. Yes, they understand they are wearing the Philippine colors and they are proudly defending it. Yes, they do understand that everyone involved in the fight was wrong. It could have been prevented if the referees did take control of the game right from the warm ups and warned the players of their extra actions.
Honestly, this should serve as a reminder to other teams not to name call any player of any country or something like this might happen again in the future. Lesson learned: never call anyone monkey for we are humans, not monkeys. Respect is earned not given.