Another violent reception
By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)
BEIJING - China is fast becoming known for "basketbrawl" and not basketball after another ugly scuffle erupted in the fourth quarter of an exhibition game between the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) club Foshan Longlions and Australian league team the Melbourne Tigers on Tuesday.
According to Chinese media reports, an Australian guard intentionally fouled Foshan forward Zheng Zhun in protest of the officiating as Foshan led 109-105 with 20 seconds left in the final period. Zheng's teammates fought back, and the two sides exchanged punches and kicks. The game was forced to end prematurely and the spectators were shocked.
The Longlions released an apology on their website on Wednesday and said the teams had reconciled.
"We feel so sorry for the fans and the Australian side for the reckless behavior during the match. We have taken the necessary efforts to avoid further negative effects of the incident, and both sides have reached full understanding and forgiveness," said the statement.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Chinese Basketball Association imposed a one-week suspension of competition and training for the team. Its officials and all the players that involved were ordered to hand in written self-criticism to the sport's authority.
Despite the apology and the punishment, a history of reckless acts has damaged the international image of Chinese basketball.
Two months ago, a brawl erupted between another CBA team, the Bayi Rockets, and the NCAA's Georgetown Hoyas on Aug 18 in a friendly game during United States Vice President Joe Biden's China visit.
Last October, the Chinese national team's Asian Games warm-up against Brazil was marred by a fight that left several players hurt. FIBA, the sport's world governing body, imposed suspensions and fines on China's head coach, Bob Donewald, and some of the players.
The China team also fought visiting US all-star teams in 2001 and 2003, and the Lebanon national team at the 2001 Asian Basketball Championships. At the Stankovic Cup in 2005, China received a fine totaling $176,000 for an ugly melee with Puerto Rico.
"Although a fight won't be triggered by a single side. This is a very bad influence on China's basketball. Treating your guests like this ... who will come to play in China in the future?" said a Sohu.com comment.