The Aussies aren’t blameless in this
WELL that escalated quickly.
The astonishing, astounding, disgraceful scenes of mayhem and violence that marred Australia's basketball match with the Philippines on Monday night were so disturbing that it's hard to know where to start.
So let's start at the very beginning, a cheap shot to the head of Australian Chris Goulding that was answered with an even cheaper shot by Goulding's teammate Daniel Kickert.
To be fair to Kickert, the blow that felled Goulding was far from the first foul meted out by the smaller, less skilled Filipinos during the match. It was part of an orchestrated campaign to try to unsettle the Aussies.
But by reacting with an eye-for-an-eye mentality, Kickert threw fuel on the fire of what became the ugliest-ever incident in Australian basketball, arguably the worst in the sport's international history.
Perhaps in other circumstances and maybe in other sports, Kickert would be applauded for standing up for his teammate. Who knows, maybe one day a beer company will make an ad out of the social media footage that is currently going viral around the world.
"Sticking up for your mates … that's what Aussies do."
But right now Basketball Australia will be hard-pressed to see any positives, regardless of how provoked the Australians had been.
This was a bad look for the game - a bad, bad look for Australia.
True, it wasn't the Aussies who attacked their opponents like a pack of hungry street dogs. They weren't the ones piling in en masse, with fists, boots and chairs as their victims lay helpless on the floor.
And true, Australian bench players did show restraint, forcing themselves to stay out of the brawl, much as it obviously pained them to do so.
But thanks to that elbow by Kickert, there will always be an argument that the Boomers were the guilty party: the ones who took a volatile situation and turned it into something else - a disgrace.
And it's true, all moral outrage aside, the Aussies were culpable. Of lack of control, of taking the bait, of stupidity.
Does a team of Australian professional athletes playing against a lower-ranked side on their home court in front of their rabid fans really have to be warned that they will be hit with every dirty trick under the sun in order to put them off their game?
Do they really have to be told to stay calm, turn the other cheek, get the points and head for airport?
If so, maybe there's something else they'd better start learning: self-defence, because if that is the way they are going to react to provocation, they might as well take their numbers and names off their singlets and replace them with targets.