As reported by The Pick and Roll on 16 July, the NBL have since confirmed that the Adelaide 36ers will take on the Philippines in Manila on 23 and 25 August.
Adelaide’s games in Manila will mark the first time an Australian team has played in the country since the now infamous ‘basketbrawl’ that occurred between the two national teams, during the FIBA World Cup qualifiers a little over 12 months ago. In a contest that was played on 2 July, basketball was ultimately the loser. An incredible 13 players were ejected, with the entire Philippines bench clearing, as players, coaches, officials and spectators engaged in a wild melee.
The NBL has worked with Basketball Australia to ensure that the 36ers' tour of the Philippines is safe.
NBL Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Loeliger confirmed the club and league have exercised their due diligence to ensure the team’s safety, including sending a security guard with the team.
“We commend Adelaide for playing a pre-season game against the Philippines," outlined Loeliger in confirmation of the arrangements put in place. "We think it’s a tremendous initiative and we’ve worked with the club to ensure the welfare of players and staff participating in the game."
One of the big safety measures put in place for the two-games includes the teams playing in front of virtually an empty stadium, with only "VIP guests" and teams officials only.
It's true... Manila bound. 🛫 🇵🇭
We'll be taking on the Philippines national team, as part of their Goodwill Games later this month.
— Adelaide 36ers (@Adelaide36ers) August 3, 2019
Adelaide head coach Joey Wright was excited for the opportunity, noting the safety of his team and staff was of paramount importance.
“Basketball Australia and the club have ticked all the boxes to make sure it’s a safe trip," Wright explained. "I’ve lived in the Philippines and played basketball over there for years and have never had any trouble.
“The Philippines have been playing basketball at a high level for 40 years and they’ve had one fight, so I don’t anticipate any issues. It’s a new coach. I’m very familiar with the coach, he’s a good friend of mine. I think they’ll be on their best behaviour and obviously we will,” Wright said.
Anthony Drmic is the only current Adelaide 36er who was on the Australian Boomers roster that endured that fateful night in Manila last year. While the sharpshooting guard managed to stay out of harm’s way during the melee, the return trip may well be the hardest for Drmic.
FIBA’s disciplinary panel imposed sanctions against a total of 13 players across both teams, along with two Filipino coaches and the referees from the now now infamous game.
Those Filipino players who received sanctions from that incident who are currently part of their World Cup squad include Roger Pogoy, Japeth Aguilar, Matthew Wright, Jeth Rosario and Andray Blatche. It is however worth noting that the coaching staff involved in the melee have since been replaced.
While the 36ers will look to take the first step in restoring diplomatic basketball ties between the two nations, the international trip is the first of two Adelaide will make in their pre-season ahead of returning to Salt Lake City to play the Utah Jazz on 5 October.
Wright is focused on integrating face new players into the lineup this season, and was hoping the international games would help the team bond together.
“The purpose of all our pre-season trips is to bring the team together and practice some new techniques we may use and roll out this year," shared Wright.
“So, it’s all about bringing the team together. Anytime you’re flying internationally, you’re in an area where people don’t know each other, players can’t use their phones as much, so they typically come together."