‘We were wronged!’ and other things politicos said about ‘basketbrawl’

July 4, 2018 - 6:21 PM
Australia's Daniel Kickert on the receiving end of a punch thrown by Andre Blatche of the Philippines after Kickert attacked a Filipino player during a FIBA Asia Qualifiers match at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan. (STAR/Jose Mendoza)

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

Even as both Philippine and Australian basketball governing bodies and a number of the players and coaching staff involved issued apologies, some in the Philippine government weighed in on the issue.

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.

He received a concurring response from Sen. Joel Villanueva, one of the two senators he tagged.

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.

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.

Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, himself a former student-athlete,  called for an apology from everyone involved regardless of who started the conflict.

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.