FIBA Basketbrawl: It is only a silly game

Sir Charles Barkley, an NBA legend and now a TNT analyst, could best describe the unfortunate incident during the Philippines-Australia match in the FIBA Qualifiers Second Window last July 2 at the Philippine Arena.

He once said there are only five real jobs in the world: [being a] teacher, doctor, fireman, policeman, and in the military service.

In sense, playing basketball, even to represent one’s country, is not. He also said that he considers playing basketball professionally is only playing a silly game.

Well, I agree. Playing basketball, even as a means of livelihood (that pays up a lot, if I may add), should just be played to be enjoyed. It should not be a matter of life and death.

The Australia Boomers and Gilas Pilipinas will surely defend themselves and blame the other one as the cause of the melee but, truth is, they are both to be blamed because they simply forgot that what they were engaged in is just a silly game to be played and enjoyed.

For what does an ungracious winner or a sore loser gain?

For those like me who grew up in the ‘80s, we were probably brought back in time. We probably taught we will never see something like this again.

But I understood why the iconic Kevin Mchale clothesline on Kurt Rambis will no longer be just a regular foul, as it should. I understood why there could never be “Jordan rules” again.

In that game, Australia forgot there’s a reason why taunting and clotheslines are no longer allowed in the NBA and why running up the score when the game is obviously over is a big no-no today.

The NBA now calls technical fouls on acts that constitute taunting and players often raise a howl whenever somebody tries to run up the score when the game is obviously over.

Disrespectful and unsportsmanlike. That’s how the aggrieved party perceives it.

It is even graver in the next one.

The retaliation of Daniel Kickert putting a forearm on Roger Pogoy’s body part above the shoulder is a very dangerous move.

With concussion issues now proven to be having very, very serious effects to one’s well-being, a shot to the head or neck in basketball is uncalled for, no matter what the circumstances are.

Kickert had no business delivering that forearm to the neck/head area.

More so when the supposed reason for doing it is action between two combatants engaged in a heated battle on a one-on-one match-up.

A part of the game which the basically came about because of their trash-talking and because the referees allowed it.

If the Boomers review past games of this Gilas team in international competitions, they will find out that these Gilas players do not play rough. They don’t bully, instigate confrontations. They all won their previous games because of their skill and teamwork.

They individually do the same in the PBA.

The Boomers should be looking at themselves on why they got a team like this to act the way they did.

They should know they are favored to win this match even without the roughhousing tactic. I know physical play is part of the game but they really don’t need it against the Filipinos this evening. Much less employ it when the game is moving to becoming out of reach in their favor.

Picking a fight with a physically smaller, less athletic opponent? Definitely not the trash-talking in sports. Sounds bullying to me.

The Philippines’ Gilas? Well, they forgot there’s a reason why the Lakers and the Celtics are probably the best rivals in the NBA to date.

While these two teams maybe rough inside the court in their 80s heydays as physicality was a big part of the action back then, it is always their basketball play that dominates the action, not their fists and elbows.

This is one among the things the NBA would gladly have. A rivalry of this kind.

These Boomers should be Gilas’ rivals.

On the Harcourt!

They should be their friends in real life.

Haven’t these Gilas players heard of NBA rivals hanging out together nowadays?

Punching an opponent inside a basketball court and beating him up is not the right way to build up a rivalry and camaraderie.

It really doesn’t matter what provoked them. Punches and kicks have no place inside a basketball court. It will only lead to something like what happened last night.

An opponent who trash-talks and plays physical should not be enough to induced one to retaliate with violence. More so when one is not this type of a player or team.

What Gilas did, while out of character, was inexcusable. They should not have let themselves stooped down to the Boomers’ level if they taught the Aussies’ physical plays and taunts are below the belt.

Gilas, since returning to the international stage the 2010s, never engaged in physical violence outside of the regular game action and should not forget how well-mannered they are. No matter what level of instigation an opponent does to them to lose focus on the game.

They are good guys who just want to show the world what they can do in the basketball court.

Like it or not, Pogoy took the Aussies’ bait and fell into their trap. These physical plays and taunts are intended to take one’s game away and loss focus on the game. When the aggrieved party retaliate with physicality instead, chances are a physical clash between combatants could be eminent.

The Gilas participants in the brawl lost it big time because their reaction got officials and fans join the fray!

If they want to shut up these Boomers, they should have done it with their play and not their fists.

Our visitors are really outplaying them at the moment the brawl erupted. They were down by a big margin, not because of the roughhousing, but because the Boomers are clearly playing better than them at that point and Gilas could not come up with something to check them.

I believe, while Gilas maybe may be smaller and less athletic than the Boomers, they were never short in talent and skill.

Come up with better shot selection, better plays, better defense.

Pogoy draining threes and coming up with steals instead of delivering those elbows and kicks would have been a bigger revenge to their physical play.

That’s how to shut up their thrash talks.

On a last note, after all I said here, I did like how the Gilas Boys showed we, as Filipinos, should not be easily pushed around, especially here in our house.

Just think how our visitors acted: the removal of the sponsor decals without even asking permission, them complaining of Gilas cadets crossing their side of the court during the warm-ups, the physical confrontation during the warm-ups, the excessive physical play, the continued taunting even when the game is seemingly over, [Update: Chot Reyes stated Kickert is hitting Gilas players during warm-ups. No wonder why the players involved seemingly went after him only and not his teammates].

Something inside tells me I should want how Gilas defended our home turf by just giving the Boomers what they were asking for.

But, naaah!

If I were Gilas, I would have still give what the fans around the world were asking: maximum effort and an enjoyable game.

I know it is hard to remain true to this spirit of the game, especially when you feel you are being hurt, disrespected and being pushed around in your own home.

But I would not have forgotten, what is really at stake this night is still a silly game to be enjoyed.

The fans were the big losers this night.

By: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS

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