MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) Filipino-American big man Troy Rike earned a commendation from the national team’s backer for his actions during the unsightly brawl between Gilas Pilipinas and Australia in the Philippine Arena last Monday night.
The 22-year-old Rike had the presence of mind to cover Australia’s Chris Goulding during the melee, when Goulding had already fallen on the sidelines. Rike was able to shield the Boomer from fans who appeared ready to mob the guard.
His act drew praise from Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas, who said that Rike “saved our country” on Monday night.
“Kung hindi sa action ni Troy Rike, basag 'yung ulo nung nakahiga na 'yun. By protecting this person, nakita niya 'yung repercussion[s]. Even with his youth, he saw things beyond that moment,” Mascariñas said.
As a token of his appreciation, Mascariñas awarded Rike a check of P100,000.
The Gilas cadet already knows what he plans to do with the unexpected reward.
"Obviously, I'm new to Gilas. So when I found out Chooks-to-Go was nice enough to give Gilas some incentives to the players, I was very happy," said Rike.
"And I made the decision to take some of that money and do something good with it. I'm planning to split it and give P50,000 to a Filipino charity and P50,000 to an Australian charity as well," he said.
After learning of Rike’s plan, Mascariñas and Chooks-to-Go matched the player’s donations by giving another P100,000 to the same charities.
Rike intends to make the donations to the the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Australia and World Vision Philippines.
"Though young, Troy is showing that he is mature beyond his years," Mascariñas said. "Even if had just been here in the country for just two months, he is proving that he can be an excellent ambassador to the sport both on and off the court."
"Chooks-to-Go matched my donation by donating P100,000 as well to both countries," said Rike.
"Going forward, hopefully it will do some good and other people will do the same because that is what basketball is all about -- bringing people together and giving people something to cheer for. So I hope, this is a good first step to show what we are all about as a country and as a team," he added.
Rike hopes that this will be a good step towards moving on from one of the darkest moments in Philippine basketball history.
"Players and my teammates express their regret for their actions and some Australian players have expressed their regret as well," expressed Rike.
"Obviously, both of us wish what happened would not have had happened because that is not what either country is about. We can't take that back and the only thing we could do is move forward and do some good with that."
In a photo posted on social media, Rike was seen standing over Goulding at the height of the free for all between Gilas players and the Australians.
It turned out Rike was protecting Goulding from attackers.
"Just before I hear anything about this picture or my character. I was standing over him with both legs to protect him," he said in a tweet.
"You can check the footage, I’m actively pushing people off."
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