BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese team that got into a nasty brawl with Georgetown University players in an exhibition game went to the Beijing airport Friday to reconcile and see off their departing rivals ahead of a rematch Sunday in Shanghai.
A brief statement from Georgetown said head coach John Thompson III and two of the team's players met with representatives of China's Bayi Rockets following "heated exchanges" in Thursday night's exhibition game.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minsiter Cui Tiankai said Bayi members went to Beijing airport to see off the Georgetown team and the sides exchanged souvenirs.
"My understanding is that it's all cleared up," Cui told reporters at a briefing on Vice President Joe Biden's ongoing visit to China. "We're pleased about this outcome."
The two teams play each other again on Sunday in Shanghai.
Chinese basketball fans slammed Bayi, which is owned by China's military, for its part in the brawl that forced the cancelation of a match intended to promote U.S.-China goodwill during Biden's visit.
Video footage showing players punching each other and throwing chairs spread swiftly on the Internet and worldwide TV news.
"The Bayi team have really lost face now," wrote a user named anoia on China's popular microblog Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. "No matter who is right and who is wrong, you have fought the visiting team as the host ... especially while their second man in charge is in this country."
It was the latest instance of on-court fighting by China, whose players have been fined tens of thousands of dollars by the world and Asian federations for scrapping with opponents.
In October, China's national basketball coach, a manager and three players were suspended for an ugly brawl with Brazil's team that left one Chinese player in a neck brace. Fights are also not uncommon at Chinese football matches.
The video clip appears to show American players falling over Chinese players as they all run for the ball, and then two members from each side slamming into each other. Seconds later, the brawl breaks out.
Chinese fans weren't impressed.
"Does the Bayi team think they are better at Chinese kungfu than basketball and that is why they are desperate to show it off," said a Sina Weibo user named JF1113.
"I just don't get it that China is fighting other people all the time. And they lose the games too," said another user named QimaDdou.
Another, nego_lu, called players in China "poorly educated."
The Georgetown Hoyas are in China on a 10-day goodwill trip that has been cited by the U.S. State Department as an example of sports diplomacy that strengthens ties between the two countries' peoples.
Su Qun, a well-known basketball commentator in China, said blame shouldn't be aimed solely at the players.
"It's not correct for players to fight. But we see fighting occasionally and it is often because of management problems in sports teams," he said. "It's important that teams have strict rules on discipline."
Several NBA players have been considering China as a destination in the event the U.S. season was canceled due to a labor dispute.
However, the Chinese Basketball Association poured cold water on those ambitions Friday, saying it would not accept contracted NBA players, and would require any free agents coming to the Chinese league to play for the full season.
Associated Press writer Louise Watt contributed to this story.