The China Daily called Friday’s game between China and Puerto Rico in the Stankovic Continental Champions Cup the “most shameful night” in China basketball history. With 1:28 to play and China enjoying a comfortable 91-80 lead, Puerto Rico center Manuel Narvaez challenged China’s Yi Jianlian with a foul to the face. Chinese players Mo Ke and Li Nan took offense to the foul, left the bench and rushed Navaraz. A “mass brawl” ensued. Soon fans at Beijing Capital Gymnasium were pelting Pueto Rican players with plastic bottle, cups and popcorn. One fan even threw his shoe. The Puerto Rican team left the court, shielding themselves with chairs. The game was called and two hours later China was declared the winner. The Chongqing Evening News has photos of the fracas.
“This is the ugliest scene I have ever experienced in my life,” the China Daily quoted Wang Kai, a 31-year-old fan, as saying. “The Puerto Rico players have travelled more than 30 hours to come to China and they are our guests. As the host team, how can we treat them with such disdain?”
Houston Rockets center Yao Ming watched the melee from China’s bench. “China’s men’s basketball team should draw a lesson from this incident,” he was quoted as saying.
Oddly, the China-Puerto Rico matchup wasn’t the only tournament game cut short on Friday. Angola and Australia had to stop play in the third quarter due to a wet playing surface.
The tournament concluded Sunday, with Lithuania taking the title. China finished fourth in the six-team event.