The Italian term from "brawl" is apparently rissa. What's the translation for awk-ward?
Canada-Italy is about the last international basketball matchup where you would expect punches to be thrown during a friendly. Italy's team includes two members of the Raptors, Andrea Bargnani and Marco Belinelli. Raptors television analyst Leo Rautins coaches Canada. Raps assistant GM Maurizio Gherardini, who is from Italy, works with Canada Basketball. Nevertheless, it happened on Saturday. It was touched off when forward Stefano Mancinelli sucker-punched good Kingston boy Aaron Doornekamp at the tailend of a very chippy game. Italian media reports say it was in retaliation for being elbowed. Whatever brought it on, punching someone on the basketball court is beyond the pale.
What happened was that Canada guard Andy Rautins, who plays at Syracuse, had the ball on the left wing. Two defenders pressed him, forcing him to give up the ball. Doornekamp and point guard Jermaine Anderson both flashed high to give Rautins an outlet. It looked like Doornekamp had his arm out to ward off Mancinelli as he went for either a deflection or steal.
Reading Babelfished articles doesn't make that clear if that was when this Doornekamp elbow occurred or if it was on a previous play (some of the reports say it was under the basket and as you can see, they were out near midcourt).
Apparently, it had been a physical game between the two teams, who were playing for the second time in a week, so there might have been bad blood. It is also a different world over in Euro-ball. There is a different standard of officiating and there are not the same safeguards that the NBA has implemented to stop brawling since the Malice at the Palace almost five years ago.
Whenever this happens, no matter what the sport, some people will always say that the guy had it coming, brought it on himself. It goes extra since it is a player from the Ravens, who are resented in certain Canadian basketball circles.
There is no illusion Doornekamp is an angel on the court. It is hard to become a key cog in four national championship teams in five years while playing nice. Like any forward whom you would want on your basketball team, he plays with some edge, no quarter asked, none given. His style drove a lot of opponents to frustration over his five seasons with the Ravens while playing for his uncle, Dave Smart.
Perhaps this is a well, duh statement, but you know some knucklehead on a message board, perhaps a current CIS student-athlete, will say Doornekamp brought that on. This was karma. Anyone who would say that needs to question their motivation for being in sports. No one has that coming just because they play hard and earn their space.
Considering the damage a punch thrown by a 6-foot-8, 200-pound-plus basketball player such as Mancinelli could cause, it's fortunate there was not a serious injury.
Granted, easy enough to editorialize when the player from one's neck of the woods was the punchee. What if Doornekamp was the puncher? Well, the way it seems to work in the Ravens' realm is that a good player does anything to not come off the court. Striking an opponent and risking a suspension seems like a very poor way to achieve that end. Smart's teams go all-out and make opponents rue thinking they could get an offensive rebound or an easy layup, but punch a player from behind while play is going on? Never.
On the clip, actually, former Carleton guard Ryan Bell can also be seen stepping in front of a teammate to keep him from getting involved.
Bargnani also tried to play peacemaker. Canadian forward Jesse Young seemed very agitated and Bargnani put an arm around him and said something, which seemed to calm Young down. For now, the feeling should just be a sigh of relief it was not worse.
Meantime, not be a Don Cherry about this, but it is something to see that flinty Eastern Ontario toughness make a player a continent away go berserk, especially in a friendly.
(Update: Coach Leo Rautins told Sun Media "It's all good ... no big deal" and added Doornekamp was uninjured. It was a lead item at sportsnet.ca.)
There is plenty of coverage from Italian media here, here, here, here and here.