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Philippines pulls out of Asian Games basketball in row over brawl

Manila, Philippines: The Philippines national basketball team said Friday it has pulled out of the Asian Games as it prepares to appeal sanctions handed down over a nasty on-court brawl with Australia at a World Cup qualifier.

Basketball's governing body FIBA suspended 10 players and two coaches from the Philippines national squad over the melee, which saw players and fans exchanging wild punches and flying kicks at the July 2 match in Manila.

"We just don't have the time and chance to send an optimal team for the Asian Games. We will focus to build on the next round of the world qualifying,", the president of the Philippine basketball federation (SBP) Al Panlilio said Friday in a statement to AFP.

"We will file an appeal on the FIBA decision and clarify important aspects of the decision," he added.

He did not elaborate on the planned appeal.

Panlilio's remarks came after the SBP said late Thursday it was withdrawing from the Asian Games in order to "regroup".

The SBP's decision to miss the Asian Games is a shocking one in a country where basketball is the most popular sport.

Indonesia will host athletes from 45 Asian countries from August 18 to September 2 in the world's biggest multi-sport event behind the Olympics.

The SBP is still reeling from the July 2 incident which also left the Australian team fearing for their safety and prompted them to seek embassy help to fast-track their departure from the Philippines.

Switzerland-based FIBA hit the SBP with a fine of 250,000 Swiss Francs ($250,000) and imposed another 10,000 Francs fine on head coach Vincent Reyes, who was accused of urging his players to fight.

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