The Georgetown Hoyas basketball team was involved in a brawl during an exhibition game in China on Thursday, one that head coach John Thompson III says the team "sincerely regrets."
"I mean it's crazy, I talked to a lot of the guys this morning... They don't know what to say, they are in another country, stuff just got out of hand," sophomore Thomas Bestman said in Georgetown Thursday.
Peter Reck, who attended the game, said the score was tied at 64 to 64 with 9:32 left on the clock.
"I was sitting just above the players in the second row. Just down to the right were the folks traveling with the team, parents and alumni. You could cut the air with a knife," he said.
Then the tensions exploded into an all-out brawl.
"The whole thing was surreal and afterwards those of us Westerners not traveling with the team seriously wondered if it was safe to leave. Having said that, I would have been surprised if a fight had not broken out -- the game was a battle and in my opinion the referees only fueled the fire with biased calls and lack of game control," Reck said.
He said some Chinese men tried to calm down the brawl, yelling: "Peace, Peace."
"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," Georgetown head coach John Thompson III says.
In the video, you see the members of the Chinese team, the Bayi Rockets, stream off the bench and surrounding a downed Georgetown player. The Hoyas quickly join the fracas. A few moments later, the brawl moves to the baseline, where one member of Bayi is seen slinging a chair at Georgetown players.
The Hoyas are then showered with bottles as they make their way off the floor.
"I guess people can mistake it for reflecting poorly on the relationship with the countries," graduate student Kyle Winslow said, who attributed the brawl to the "aggressiveness of the sport."
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"I don't blame the kids who were playing form the Georgetown team. I think they were sort of incited. I think the crowd got nasty and I think the other team was pretty nasty as well," said D.C. resident Eric Larsen.
"Especially the response from the China crowd was really I think barbaric," said Samantha Russomagno, a Georgetown sophomore.
Former Hoya Jeff Green now plays for the Boston Celtics. "It was just bad, it was a bad representation of basketball. I mean I don't know how to explain it, things happen and it got a little carried away," he said.
"It's unfortunate that it happened, they should get along," said D.C. resident Sam Yung. "That was weird because you know basketball is not supposed to be a violet sport," Ody Uy said.
Others in Chinatown wrote it up to the passions of sport.
"Just being in the heat of the moment with the game and all on the line and the spirit of competition. I think it could happen anywhere," Joel Napenas said, adding that he'll be watching the Hoya's next game to see what happens.
Georgetown was in the middle of a 10-day goodwill tour, during which they scheduled several games against Chinese teams. The game the night before was much tamer, according to Reck, and security was tighter because Vice-President Joe Biden watched the game.