US, China Basketball Game Erupts in Melee

Posted August 18th, 2011 at 2:05 pm (UTC-5)
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A goodwill basketball game between a Chinese basketball club and a U.S. collegiate team turned ugly Thursday in Beijing, when players from both teams exchanged blows and spectators threw full water bottles at the U.S. team as it withdrew from the contest to the safety of its locker room.

The U.S. coach, Georgetown University's John Thompson, pulled his players off the court with about 9:30 left in the 4th quarter, with the hotly contested game against the Bayi Rockets tied at 64. The Washington Post, with a reporter present, said the retreat came after players from both teams threw punches and tackled one another. A photograph from the China Daily showed three uniformed Chinese players and a fourth individual kicking a Georgetown player as the fallen player tried to get up off the court.

The report said another Georgetown player had a chair thrown at him by an unidentified person. It also said the brawl erupted after a Georgetown player took exception to a hard foul from a Rockets player and the two exchanged shoves. Witnesses were also quoted as saying police made no attempts to break up any other skirmishes that preceded the game-ending melee.

There was no immediate comment from Chinese officials. Georgetown's coach Thompson later issued a statement calling the game “a contest between two great teams” played at a “very competitive” level. The statement said “we sincerely regret that the situation occurred.”

Georgetown was scheduled to depart Beijing for a game in Shanghai Friday, but it was not clear whether the team would complete the final five days of its tour.