MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines have withdrawn from the basketball tournament at the Asian Games with its governing body saying it needed to focus on its appeal against punishment levied on it for the on-court brawl during a World Cup qualifier this month.
Thirteen players from the Australia and Philippines teams, as well as two Filipino coaches, were suspended for their role in the fight during the game in Bulacan on July 2, which was abandoned when the hosts had only one player left on court.
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) also fined the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), which runs basketball in the country, 250,000 Swiss francs ($250,000).
The SBP said in a statement that the national team and governing body needed time to “regroup” and prepare for the process of appealing the FIBA decision.
“We have reached the conclusion that, with the forgoing considered and after consulting with the basketball community, the time and chance to participate in the 2018 Asian Games would not be optimal,” it continued.
“We apologize to the Asian Games organizers, to the fans of the Philippine team, and to the Asian basketball community for this withdrawal.”
The Philippines, Asian Games bronze medalists in 1998, had been seeded seventh for the 15-team tournament and were drawn in Group B along with Iran, Syria and the United Arab Emirates.
The basketball competition at the Asian Games takes place from Aug. 19 to Sept. 1 in Jakarta.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Peter Rutherford