Cebuano Fajardo keeps cool amidst chaos in controversial Philippines vs Australia game
Cebuano behemoth June Mar Fajardo was a picture of calm even as all hell broke loose during their 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifier game against Australia on Monday night at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.
The 6-foot-10 native of Pinamungahan and proud product of the University of Cebu was actually on the floor when the melee started after Australian big man Daniel Kickert decked another Cebuano, Roger Pogoy, with an elbow to the jaw, with 4:01 left in the third period and the Boomers already ahead by a mile, 79-48.
Not long after that, punches, kicks, elbows and even chairs were thrown as what started out as mere tension escalated to an all-out brawl.
When the dust settled, only Fajardo, forward Gabe Norwood and reserve guard, Baser Amer were left, playing three against five, until the game was halted minutes later after Fajardo and Norwood intentionally fouled out.
Ejected from the game on the Gilas side were Talisay City-native Pogoy, naturalised player Andray Blatche, Terrence Romeo, Jayson Castro,Carl Bryan Cruz, Calvin Abueva, Troy Rosario, Japeth Aguilar, and Matthew Wright. Four players from Australia were also thrown out.
Afterwards, in a television interview with ESPN5, Gilas head coach Chot Reyes shed light on the incident, saying:
“The reality is that Kickert was hitting our players during the warm-ups. He hit Carl Bryan Cruz, he hit Matthew Wright, Pogoy, and he hit Calvin Abueva during the warm-ups. We already restrained the players before the game. We already told them, ‘Huwag niyo nang pansinin,’ when Kickert did all of those things at the start during the warm-ups. We already told them to focus on the game.”
“The foul of Pogoy on Goulding was an offensive foul, it was a basketball play. But (Kickert) was the one who came in and decked Pogoy. That was the fifth time. You don’t expect to do it to a team five times and not expect us to retaliate. Unfortunately, that triggered the entire brawl. But you know, when (Kickert) did that in the third quarter, it’s hard to restrain (the Gilas players) anymore.”
“It’s unfortunate. We didn’t want it to happen. It’s absolutely unacceptable,” Reyes said. “But as unfortunate as it is, it’s something that you have to be there to know what really went down. I know a lot of Filipinos, especially a lot of PBA players are saying their piece, but they don’t know what happened. They don’t really know what went on. That’s all that we have to say.“
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