Freeman Cebu Sports

More on the Rumble

EVERY POUND COUNTS - Alan G. Choachuy - The Freeman

It is often said that basketball is physical game, and if you can’t take the heat, you might as well play chess! Well, last Monday’s fight-marred game was a chess match played to perfection by the Australia Boomers. Aussies did their assignment well and scouted the Gilas from head to foot. Testament to that, Phl’s top playmaker Jason Castro was shadowed and defended well, and the Aussies were one step ahead on most of his moves. Terence Romeo and June Mar Fajardo showed some brilliance, but Fajardo was called for his 4th foul and was forced to sit. Blatche was simply out of basketball shape. He was slow on every aspect and had to be taken out from the game frequently for him to rest. Although Blatche made a pair of 3-point shots early on, he sadly fell in love with shooting outside instead of taking advantage of his size underneath.

After the rumble, some basketball experts and self-proclaimed analysts have surfaced in social media. Although some comments make sense, most are just outrageously biased. Luc Longley blamed coach Chot Reyes for the rumble, mainly because of the latter’s message to his players during a timeout. For me, it was taken out of context by Longley. I reviewed the whole game over Youtube and for me, the elbow from Daniel Kickert started it all. He over reacted when he struck Pogoy on the neck. It was hard blow and could have been life-threatening for Pogoy. Before that incident involving Pogoy and Kickert, Pogoy and Chris Goulding were already taking turns in shoving and pushing each other. At one point, Goulding was trying to sell a foul to the referee and sadly Kickert bought the acting job and went straight with an elbow to Pogoy’s neck.  Then all hell broke loose.     

Gilas, in particular, emptied their bench and jumped out to join the rumble. Assistant coach Jong Uichico was fast and furious. He was under the goal but to my surprise, instead of breaking the fight, he was pounding on Goulding as well. Jong took to Twitter to apologize for his actions. Jong’s action was uncalled for and unprofessional.

Troy Rike, a reserve player for Gilas, showed some class when he went down in the frenzy. At first, it appears that as he was trying to step over Goulding but Rike was actually shielding Goulding from all the punches and kicks. When the dust settled, Marc Pingris took a selfie with the team, which for me helped calm things down. For me, it was not showing disrespect but just to break the ice.

I have been part of many fights during my basketball days and in times of trouble, it will be good to have someone covering your back. What happened to the game was inexcusable. Gilas coaches and assistant coaches should have stopped the players from jumping in. Players are representing the country and are inspiration to young kids. And to make matters worse, Coach Reyes just stood by the sideline and did nothing when rumble erupted. It’s unfortunate that he played it cool instead of stopping his players from joining the free-for-all. For me, it’s all about command responsibility. Chot has to lead by example, and step down as head coach.

Imagine this, what if the bench of Gilas did not join the rumble and Blatche just stepped in and stopped the fight. The worst case scenario is that Goulding, Kickert, Maker and Pogoy will be thrown out of the game. If the game continued with the top 3 Aussie players out, Gilas could have a chance and made a comeback. Ironically, they chose to fight fire with fire, instead of dousing it with cold water. 

Former Gilas mainstay Jimmy Alapag’s comment summed it up all: “I will always support my Gilas brothers, and I commend them for sticking up for one another, and as National athletes, we also have an obligation to represent our country in the best way possible.”

Sideline: Good luck to Metafit Tri Team competing in the fifth edition of the Sogod 8080 Triathlon today. Leading the cast are husband and wife tandem of Fritz and Zusette Co, Fr. Frere Clemente, the relay team of Catherine Acuña, Bernard Palermo, Jodette Romaguera, Golda, Joy and yours truly.


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