The noise from the free-for-all between the Gilas Pilipinas and Australia Boomers has yet to die down. And as the basketball-loving nation braces for the coming disciplinary proceedings under FIBA, the Philippines’ leaders are also starting to speak out.
Lawmakers sounding off
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III on his Twitter account called out ‘armchair critics.’ For the lawmaker, the Gilas players had merely fought back after being wronged.
— Tito Sotto (@sotto_tito) July 3, 2018
He received a concurring response from Sen. Joel Villanueva, one of the two senators he tagged.
I second the motion SP. We cant be bullied and be disrespected in our own land.
— Joel Villanueva (@senatorjoelv) July 3, 2018
Ejericto a day before aired out his thoughts, blaming Australian player Daniel Kickert for starting the melee. In his tweet, he calls Kickert an “arrogant and dirty” player, noting how the Australian had supposedly harassed Gilas players during the pre-game warm-ups.
Daniel Kickert of Australia was the one who shoved Matthew Wright during warm ups, he was also the one who gave the elbow to Roger Pogoy’s blind side that started the brawl. Dirty & arrogant player. pic.twitter.com/VDVmZ72mqw
— JV Ejercito (@jvejercito) July 2, 2018
Sen. Sonny Angara, a known sports fan, called the event “unfortunate” but stood by Gilas amid the criticism the national team received.
Party-list Rep. Mikee Romero (1-Pacman), owner of the Global Port Batang Pier team in the Philippine Basketball Association, in a statement called for all the parties to reflect on what happened but stood by the idea that the Gilas player had merely fought back after being “bullied.”
Others in the upper chamber of the legislature have called for an apology from the home side.
Sen. Manny Pacquiao, the boxing legend himself, has called on the players involved to apologize for their unsavory participation.
“Para sa akin, tayo dapat ang mag-control sa sarili natin because tayo ang host eh,” said Pacquiao in an interview with ABS-CBN News after the brawl.
Despite Pacquiao’s reconciliatory stance, his likeness has been used in memes that have circulated after the chaos, for obvious reasons.
— Jonas V. Santiago (@wako_santi) July 2, 2018
Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, himself a former student-athlete, called for an apology from everyone involved regardless of who started the conflict.
Maaring totoo na hindi tayo ang nag-umpisa nito ngunit hindi rin dapat nauwi sa free for all na suntukan. Nagkulang lahat. May pananagutan ang bawat isa.
Players. Coaches. Officials. Maging mapagkumbaba, mag-sorry, humingi ng tawad, at humingi ng paumanhin. Period.
— Kiko Pangilinan (@kikopangilinan) July 3, 2018
Malacañang, meanwhile, claimed to empathize with the involved players, but concurred that the incident was something the country had to apologize for.
“We found the whole incident unfortunate but at the same time, we appreciate that it’s something we have to be sorry about because it never should have happened,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said at a recent conference.