China apologizes for brawl with Brazil

BEIJING -- The Chinese Basketball Association apologized Wednesday for a brawl that forced play to be suspended in an exhibition game against Brazil a day earlier.

China's players were angry over a foul call that coach Bob Donewald, a former NBA assistant with the New Orleans Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers, loudly protested to the referee.

Play became increasingly rough, eventually breaking out into open exchanges of kicks and punches, with players from both benches charging onto the court. The teams were separated, but China's players then attacked their opponents as the Brazilians were heading to the locker room.

The Brazilians refused to return to the court or play today's scheduled fourth game in their series. Both teams flew from the central city of Xuchang to Beijing on Wednesday, with at least one Chinese player wearing a neck brace.

The association said the team's preparations for the Asian Games were put on hold to give players time to "deeply reflect."

"The CBA apologizes to the Brazilian side and all other parties over the incident which created such serious consequences," association vice chairman Li Jinsheng said in a statement.

Li said the entire team had been ordered to attend classes on good sportsmanship and individual players would be penalized following the conclusion of an investigation.

Tuesday's incident is just the latest instance of on-court fighting by the Chinese team, which has been fined tens of thousands of dollars by the world and Asian federations for scrapping with opponents in past.

Star Chinese players Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets and Yi Jianlian of the Washington Wizards were not present at the game.