Cambodia coach praises Gilas players, but offers to teach Chot Reyes ‘about coaching’
MANILA, Philippines–Harry Savaya, Cambodia’s animated head coach in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games, heaped praises on the Gilas Pilipinas squad that beat his team, 80-69, for the gold medal on Tuesday night.
But that warmth did not exactly extend to his counterpart, Chot Reyes.
“The Philippine players, respect for all of them. They played with their hearts [out],” he told reporters on the heels of a second-place finish at Morodok Techo National Stadium in Phnom Penh.
“[But] they deserve better than someone to blame them like in the first round,” he went on.
Savaya, a former pro from Lebanon, was referring to how Reyes handled Gilas Pilipinas’ 79-68 loss to Cambodia in the group phase.
“I like what I heard from the coach [through] ESPN of the Philippines. He blamed the weather, he blamed everything, he blamed the players. I don’t do that. I can teach him—if he wants—about coaching. In Europe, everywhere, the places he’s never been,” he said.
“And I never heard anywhere that taking a timeout will be disrespect. But that’s OK. Loser always, uh, talk (sic),” Savaya added.
Cambodia and the Philippines engaged in a heated verbal exchange towards the end of their previous encounter five days ago. The Gilas coaching staff, particularly assistant Tim Cone, took exception to Savaya’s antics and late timeout with the game already beyond doubt.
In Tuesday’s finale, Savaya and Reyes shook hands as the final horn rang.
The Gilas coach, in a separate interview, jokingly said he would’ve wanted to call a timeout as the game came to an end.
“If they’re rude, then we are not. We’ve always talked about playing the game the right way,” Reyes said.
Savaya said that he was still proud despite having to settle for silver considering how short Cambodia—replete with naturalized players—prepared for the SEA Games.
[“W]e came in like, it was literally four days before the SEA Games that’s why I’m proud of (the players),” he said.
“Four days of preparation, [and] you come [in] and beat a lot of teams preparing at least for at least two years or 3 years they’ve been together? I’m proud of all of them, even the players who didn’t play,” he added.