Cebuano Fajardo keeps cool amidst chaos in controversial Philippines vs Australia game

The Gilas Pilipinas national team huddle up after their practice at the Philippine Arena. Mark Demayo ABS-CBN News

The Gilas Pilipinas national team huddle up after their practice at the Philippine Arena. Mark Demayo ABS-CBN News

What started out as a rather tiresome mismatch on Monday night (July 2) between Australia and the Philippines, suddenly became heart-pounding reenactment of the climatic melee in "Enter the Dragon" featuring fists of fury, feet of legend, crouching coaches and hidden referees, and a house of flying chairs.

Australia led 79-48 with four minutes left in the third quarter when Philippines guard Roger Pogoy struck Chris Goulding with an elbow.

Goulding's teammate Daniel Kickert retaliated to prompt a free-for-all with the crowd getting involved.

"Basketball Australia deeply regrets the incident in tonight's match between the Boomers and the Philippines in Manila", said Anthony Moore, the chief executive of Basketball Australia. "We didn't want what happened to happen".

"You will have seen in the vision our athletes and coaches actually stayed on the court for a considerable amount of time because that was deemed to be the safest place for our players and coaches", Moore said.

"That's a fairly compelling set of circumstances; are we actually going to get out of here unscathed?"

After assessing the replay of the fight, officials made a decision to eject 13 players from the game. That sparked a major melee which saw virtually most of the Philippines' players to leave the bench and chase Kickert around the court.

In a freaky act, and despite losing the game and suffering several ejections, some of the Filipinos proudly posed for a selfie after the massive melee, as if to celebrate the fight itself.

The match was restarted despite the Philippines being left with only three players to take the court, with FIBA rules stating the game must continue unless a team only has a single player available.

Four Australian and nine Filipino players were ejected from the arena, leaving the home side with just three players and forcing them to forfeit at the end of the third quarter.

Moore admitted Kickert's action was an "unsavoury act" and "challenging" to defend but said his main concern was what happened afterwards.

Moore is due to address media in Brisbane on Tuesday morning, Basketball Australia said. However, it was eventually called off when two of them fouled out as Australia secured a comfortable 89-53 victory. "It is something that we don't play in that spirit".

Fortunately, representatives from the Australian embassy were in attendance at the match and helped the team exit the arena, board their team bus and return to their hotel.

"The SBP apologizes to Filipino basketball fans and to the basketball community for the incident that occurred during (Monday's) game", the SBP said.

But the fallout from this shocking incident could have huge ramifications for both nations ahead of the next round of qualifiers with FIBA sure to hand out severe punishments.

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