BEIJING, CHINA: What was billed as a goodwill tour of China for the Georgetown University Hoyas Men’s basketball team, erupted in a bench clearing brawl Thursday night during an exhibition game against a Chinese professional team.
The Hoyas’ coach John Thompson III pulled his players off the Olympic Sports Center Stadium court with 9 minutes 32 seconds left in the game and the scored tied at 64 after a chaotic scene in which members of the Georgetown and Bayi Military Rockets teams began swinging wildly and tackling one another. Fans also joined the fracas fighting Georgetown players and hitting them with chairs and other objects. “Fists were landing on faces. It was very nasty, unfortunate and embarrassing,” said Sarah Burton, who witnessed the chaos at Beijing’s Olympic stadium. The scrap was the latest instance of on-court fighting by China, whose players have been fined tens of thousands of dollars by the world and Asian federations for scrapping with opponents.
The turbulent ending to Thursday night’s contest marred what had been billed as the second game of a two-day “China-U.S. Basketball Friendship Match” in Beijing. Georgetown intended for the team’s 10-day trip to China to be an athletic, cultural and educational exchange designed to promote the school internationally.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner called it an “unfortunate” incident. “We look to these types of exchanges to promote good sportsmanship and strengthen our people-to-people contact with China,” he said. Thursday night’s brawl just happened to coincide with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to China.
The Hoyas have travelled on to the city of Shanghai and will continue their tour.