Vicious attack that required 10 stitches is followed by startlingly kind gesture of forgiveness.

Things weren’t looking goof for the boys basketball team from Miyazaki Prefecture’s Nobeoka Gakuen High School last Sunday. Facing off against Fukuoka Prefecture’s Ohori high School in the semifinals of the all-Kyushu tournament, which was being held in Nobeoka City, Nobeoka Gakuen found itself trailing 77 to 66 with only 40 seconds left to play.

There’s a lot to be said for never giving up until the final buzzer, but that’s pretty much an insurmountable gap to close with such little time remaining. Still, a 15-year-old foreign exchange student who was playing for Nobeoka (and whose name has not been released) wasn’t going to take this loss lying down when he could instead take it swinging.

The first-year student, who came into the game off the bench, had already been called for two fouls. But even with just 40 seconds left, in the game, he was called for a foul yet again. The referee whistled for a stop in play, at which point the player, who can be seen wearing the number five blue jersey in the video below, angrily stalked over to vent his frustration on the left side of the referee’s face.

The boy had to take 10 steps and navigate around roughly a half-dozen other players to deliver the punch, which sort of deflates the standard “mistake made in the heat of the moment and heightened emotional state of high-level competition” excuse that often gets bandied about in sports situations like this. The blow sent the referee, a man in his 20s, sprawling, bouncing his head off the hardwood floor and tearing the skin around his mouth badly enough that he required 10 stitches.

The player was immediately ejected, and Nobeoka Gakuen forfeited the game rather than follow up the disgraceful display by continuing to play.

Considering the viciousness of the attack, the police have said that criminal assault charges are a legal possibility. However, the victim has made it known that he personally does not want to press charges against the boy, who apologized to him directly while both were at the police station following the incident.

The forgiving referee said:

“The boy still has a long life ahead of him, and I don’t want him to come to hate the game of basketball.”

Despite the man’s accommodating nature, the attack may still have lasting repercussions for the Nobeoka Gakuen team. For starters, the forfeit loss eliminated he school from the all-Kyushu tournament, though given how far behind they were, that result was probably inevitable. A bigger issue, though, is that Nobeoka Gakuen was scheduled to play in the upcoming all-Japan high school basketball tournament by virtue of having won Miyazaki’s prefectural championship last month. However, due to the player’s conduct on Sunday, the entire team’s eligibility to participate in the national tournament is currently being reconsidered, meaning that the player’s appallingly unsportsmanlike impromptu boxing exhibition may mean no more basketball for any his teammates.

Sources: Twitter/@N8tKOGds6ysVtcH via Jin, Nishi Nippon Shimbun

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s going to say in advance that he’s not nearly as forgiving as this referee.