SEA Games 2023

Cambodia mentor Harry Savaya takes swipe at Chot Reyes; Gilas Pilipinas coach fires back

Delfin Dioquino
Cambodia mentor Harry Savaya takes swipe at Chot Reyes; Gilas Pilipinas coach fires back

FLEX. Harry Savaya leads Cambodia to the men's basketball finals of the 2023 SEA Games.

Ariya Kurniawan​

'I can teach him if he wants about coaching,' says Cambodia coach Harry Savaya of Gilas Pilipinas counterpart Chot Reyes

MANILA, Philippines – Cambodia head coach Harry Savaya refused to go away without a parting shot.

Savaya said he can teach Gilas Pilipinas tactician Chot Reyes a thing or two about coaching even after the Philippines held off Cambodia, 80-69, to reclaim the gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games on Tuesday, May 16.

Reyes and the Filipinos completed their redemption campaign despite what the Gilas coach felt were subpar playing conditions in Cambodia due to the absence of air-conditioning inside the venue and the linoleum-like flooring.

“He blamed the weather, he blamed everything, he blamed the players. I don’t do that,” said Savaya. “I can teach him if he wants about coaching in Europe and everywhere, the places that he’s never been.”

“The Philippine players, respect for all of them, they played with their hearts,” Savaya added. “[But] they deserve better than someone [who] blamed them like in the first round.”

Savaya earned the ire of Gilas Pilipinas players and coaches when Cambodia – which relied heavily on five naturalized players from the United States – beat the Philippines, 79-68, in the group stage.

The Lebanese mentor did the “night night” celebration popularized by NBA star Steph Curry and called a timeout late in the win – a move that prompted veteran guard Chris Ross and assistant coach Tim Cone to confront him.

It is considered discourteous in basketball to call a timeout when the result is already beyond doubt, but Savaya said he did not break any rule.

“I never heard anywhere that taking a timeout will be disrespect. But that’s okay, loser always talks,” said Savaya.

Savaya, though, got a dose of his own medicine in the gold-medal match.

Ross also pulled off the “night night” gesture near the end of their finals victory, while Reyes raised his hands in celebration for an extended period of time as he looked at the direction of Savaya.

“I think he got affected by the heat. I think he’s still hallucinating until now,” Reyes told One News’ The Big Story when asked about the comments made by Savaya.

“The [playing] conditions were facts. Everyone was talking about that, not only me, every other coach and every other player.”

Despite taking a swipe at Reyes, Savaya gave Filipino players their flowers.

“I respect them, I respect their fans, I respect everyone. They did a great job.” –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.