The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) launched an investigation on Tuesday after two Mali players were filmed fighting with each other after their team were eliminated from the Women's World Cup.
The incident took place after Mali lost 81-68 to Serbia in its Group B clash in Sydney on Monday - its fourth straight defeat at the tournament.
The fight between Salimatou Kourouma and Kamite Elisabeth Dabou broke out as Serbia's Sasa Cado was being interviewed in the mixed zone.
Kourouma was seen throwing punches at Dabou before other Mali players ran in to break the pair apart in front of a visibly shocked Cado.
The two players fronted a press conference after their final tournament game, an 88-65 loss to Canada in which both featured, and apologised.
“We are here to apologise for the image that was on social media, it was not our intention,” Dabou said as they sat side-by-side.
“We were frustrated because of the loss and we’re here to apologise to the whole of the FIBA basketball World Cup. We are sorry.”
Coach Joaquin Brizuela called the fracas a “sad incident”.
“They are two of our key players and even though it was a sad incident, it was more about they wanted to play basketball at a higher level, and they did show that today,” he said through an interpreter.
“We have learned a lot from playing this tournament.”
"FIBA acknowledged today that there was an altercation between Mali players in the mixed zone following the Group B game Serbia-Mali at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022," FIBA said in a statement.
"Following the incident, FIBA has opened an investigation. Once the investigation is concluded, FIBA will decide on any applicable disciplinary measures."
Mali is bottom of Group B with four points from four games and finishes its campaign against Canada later on Tuesday.
It qualified for the tournament after African champions Nigeria pulled out citing administrative difficulties around the sport in its country.
Puerto Rico defeated South Korea 92-73 on Tuesday to become the final team to reach the knockout stage, joining the United States, China and Belgium from Group A and Canada, France, Australia and Serbia from Group B.
The quarterfinals take place on Thursday followed by the semis on Friday and the final on Saturday.
(with inputs from AFP)