Boomers Coach Unleashes On The Philippines Team Coach And 'Thugs'
"I think he was embarrassed by the way his team was playing."
Boomers coach Luc Longley has laid into the Philippines team -- particularly their head coach -- in a fiery press conference as the team landed at Brisbane airport.
Player Daniel Kickert, whose elbow instigated the brawl, and head coach Andrej Lemanis also spoke to media, but largely stuck the Basketball Australia line of taking responsibility and waiting for FIBA to take its course of action.
But Longley unleashed on Philippines head coach Chot Reyes, accusing him of inciting his team to come out "and thug us".
"I've got some things to say," he said, the fronting media last.
"This is out of the party line, but I'm most disturbed at their head coach."
He said the brawl at the FIBA World Cup qualifier in Manila, which saw four Australian players and nine Philippines players ejected from the match, was "the worst thing I've ever seen in the game" of basketball.
"Those are the sorts of images that you hope to never see, one guy lying on the ground covering up his head and being kicked and beaten by players and officials and guys from the crowd. It was horrifying," he said.
"I've never seen anything like that, not even on YouTube."
He accused Reyes of escalating the situation, claiming the Philippines head coach was embarrassed by how his team was playing.
"I do believe their coach, Chot Reyes, incited them to come out and thug us, I think there's evidence of that, video evidence of that. Then he substituted a thug out there, who took three or four cheap swings at Bubbles [Chris Goulding].
"I think he was embarrassed by the way his team was playing, I think he was embarrassed by the kind of shape they were in, I think he was embarrassed by how they fought."
"He wouldn't look me in the eye when he shook my hand, I think he was embarrassed. I think that's where it came from, right there. If you listen to his diatribe after the game I think it verifies that.
"I'm upset with him more than anybody. To let his team take selfies, gangsta selfies, on the baseline after an event like that, that just shows a total lack of control and respect.
"You shake hands after the game as coaches and he shook my hand, but he wouldn't look me in the eye. I thought that was poor form given what had happened. I think he should take some responsibility on the spot, given what had happened."
He wouldn't speculate on what action he feels FIBA should take, saying that "I've said more than I should".
Longley said that Goulding, who was caught up in the worst of the fighting, was "shaken" after the brawl, but praised his actions.
"Chris is brave," he said.
"He took a lot of hard hits and didn't swing once in retaliation, which is an enormous act of discipline."
He also praised the players who stayed on the bench, "which is a very hard thing to do when you're a teammate", and staff for getting the players out of the country quickly and safely.
"I think our group did an amazing job of staying composed in a horrible, scary circumstance, and we were genuinely scared," he said.
Reyes retweeted a statement from the national sport association in the Philippines, which apologised to Filipino fans and the community at large, but not, notably, to the Australian team.
"As hosts, we regret having breached the bounds of traditional Filipino hospitality. As the national team representing flag and country, we likewise extend our apologies to the Filipino people," it said.
There has been reports of tensions between the Australian and Philippines sides since before the game, with plenty of the controversy surrounding the decision by the Australian side to rip up logos on the court to prevent the team from slipping on them.
Basketball Australia CEO Anthony Moore admitted it "wasn't the smartest move" by team officials, but said it was no excuse for player-on-player violence.
"We trained, had numerous players fall and fall heavily, and our team management undertook a course of action that we actually apologised for," he said on Tuesday.
Reyes expressed his fury at the stickers being removed on Twitter.
"That's FIBA approved," he said. "Besides, we've played in other venues with similar decals. Secondly, if -- and that's a big if -- it did indeed make the floor slippery, they had no right to just rip the decals and deface our floor. There were SBP/FIBA officials in venue."
Fronting media at Brisbane, a remorseful Kickert, whose elbow instigated the brawl, took responsibility for his actions.
"I was put in a position where obviously I made an action which is regrettable and unfortunate," he told media at Brisbane airport.
"It's not good to put a stain on anything. It was a good trip for the boys, and would have been a good win. It ended poorly with a bit of a controversial issue.
"I think I've overstepped a little bit with my response to the escalation in the game, and I regret those things, but I'm going to let FIBA do everything they [need to do]."
The team were expected to face press at Melbourne airport, with first Goulding and then Thon Maker scheduled to speak, but instead press were met by Basketball Australia chairman Ned Coten.
"They have literally not slept in 36 hours," said Coten, explaining why the team would not be speaking on Wednesday morning.
"We didn't feel it was appropriate when they've had no privacy and people around them."
He said that Goulding has "nothing to shy away from", and that arrangements would be made for him to front media later on Wednesday.
FIBA is taking disciplinary actions against both teams, and is expected to hand down sanctions in the coming days.