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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Gilas Pilipinas reclaimed its status as the king of the Southeast Asian Games and then some.
The Philippines let Cambodia know how sweet victory – and revenge – taste like after recapturing the SEA Games men’s 5-on-5 basketball crown with an 80-69 win in the finals on Tuesday, May 16.
Players pulled off the “night night” celebration popularized by NBA star Steph Curry in the dying moments and head coach Chot Reyes raised his hands while looking at the direction of Cambodia counterpart Harry Savaya.
“It’s just emotion, it’s just relief for a job well done. Very happy for these guys,” said Reyes. “Very happy for the Filipino people.
“All throughout we’re asking the players what puso (heart) meant to them. Every player had his own interpretation of what puso is all about. And for me, puso is all about service to the country.”
It was payback for all of Savaya’s antics when Cambodia beat the Philippines in the group stage.
Savaya played the role of a villain when he did the same “night night” gesture and called a late timeout in their 79-68 victory – a move that drew the ire of several Gilas Pilipinas players and coaches.
“It would have felt nice to call a timeout in the end, right?” said Reyes. “If they’re disrespectful, we’re not. We always talked about playing the game the right way.”
Perhaps, Savaya’s shenanigans and Cambodia’s earlier win were exactly what Gilas Pilipinas needed to gain the edge in the gold-medal match.
“I know a lot of people doubted this team the first time we lost,” said Reyes.
“We just kept our focus. Here we are. The players did a hell of a job. They stuck together.” – Rappler.com