The Georgetown men’s basketball team is on an exhibition trip to China, where things got pretty intense on Thursday in a game against the Bayi Rockets in Beijing.
First reported on Twitter by the Washington Post’s Gene Wang, the Hoyas got into a brawl with their Chinese opponents, and from the looks of these photos on Sina, it got pretty intense. (UPDATE: Click here to watch video of the incident.)
Here was Wang's first tweet about the incident:
"Bedlam at Hoyas game vs Baiyi. Benches cleared. JTIII pulls team off court in 4th quarter. Fans hurled bottles at team."
Georgetown coach John Thompson III issued the following statement following the game:
“Tonight, two great teams played a very competitive game that unfortunately ended after heated exchanges with both teams. We sincerely regret that this situation occurred," Thompson said in the statement. "We remain grateful for the opportunity our student-athletes are having to engage in a sport they love here in China, while strengthening their understanding of a nation we respect and admire at Georgetown University.”
Witness accounts place the blame on bad officiating, and this Georgetown message board has a pretty detailed first-person account. From the post:
Two minutes into the fourth, they were pressing full court, trapped one of our guards (I forget who it was), and then must have pushed or punched him on the ground after he made the outlet pass, because then there was a shoving match and then a bit of a fight, and then the whole thing set off. He tried to get away as quickly as possible as the Chinese players sort of converged on him, and then benches cleared, and then people on the Chinese bench started picking up chairs. Everyone on the other side of the court started fighting as well. Brawl spread all over the court, and then off the court. After it kicked off it immediately became possible for the crowd to get involved, and then they did. As we tried to get the team off the court, bottles (plastic ones, thankfully) came out of the crowd at the team and everyone left. Security was there (sort of), but it was more equivalent to mall cop-quality security rather than actual security. The Georgetown staff wanted the security to get on the floor, but honestly these guys didn't have a clue what to do. They escorted the whole alumni contingent out fairly quickly after that. Game over, 64-64 (following another intentional foul).
To make matters worse, the two teams are scheduled to play again Sunday night in Shanghai.
On Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden visited the Georgetown squad before their game against another Chinese team. According to the official White House blog, the Hoyas' two-week visit to China "reflects an ongoing push to expand people-to-people exchanges between our two countries, as well as an effort to strengthen the U.S.-China relationship through sport."
UPDATE: Gene Wang of the Washington Post has filed his detailed account of the situation here.