GILAS Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes denied he ordered his players to intentionally hurt Australia players during a timeout moments before the Fiba Basketball World Cup Asian qualifier degenerated into a full-blown brawl.
A video from the telecast showed an angry Reyes telling his players during the timeout to “hit somebody, put somebody in their ass,” while the home team trailed by double-digits in the hot-tempered match at the Philippine Arena.
Reyes, however, said the words he uttered were meant as a basketball parlance, and not meant to instruct his players to hurt their opponents.
“Anyone who understands basketball, if you take offense with that statement, you don’t know basketball. That’s number one,” said Reyes during a made-for-TV forum of TV5, where the Gilas coach sits as president.
Reyes’ former players have also leapt to the defense of their coach, among them NLEX veteran Larry Fonacier who played under Reyes both at TNT and in the national team.
Just to put this into context, being a player of coach for so many years, he always uses this term when he feels his team is not matching the opponents’ physicality. That’s all. It is not a direct order to hit in a dirty way. https://t.co/iAnsMAMxO5
— Larry Fonacier (@larryfo12) July 2, 2018
Putting his statement into a basketball context, Reyes said his instructions were really to “foul early” and “don’t give up a lay-up.”
“Take a look at the statement. They are beating us on transition, so foul early. Foul early, don’t give up a lay-up. Hit somebody but hit him down so the referees will call a foul. It’s basketball,” said Reyes.
“It is the same way you give a pick, take his head off. Di ba, when you say set a good pick, take his head off. That’s a basketball term. That’s a coaching term,” Reyes said.
The multi-titled coach also shrugged off the criticism.
“For me, I’m not even bothered by all the bashers and all the negative feedback I’m getting on that. But every coach that you ask will tell you, it’s basketball,” Reyes said.
“I appreciate Larry for coming to my defense and I think even Rudy Hatfield said that. Better than me talking, the players are doing the talking,” said Reyes.
Reyes also defended Marc Pingris, who was seen in the telecast having a groufie with his former Gilas Pilipinas teammates during the lull after the brawl.
“He is not my player right now but he is a part of the Gilas family. I always like to say, ‘Once Gilas, always Gilas.’ If I saw it, I would have stopped it maybe just so that there won’t be any misinterpretation.
"But if you know Ping, that’s his personality. He always likes to interject a lot of humor, kengkoy, during the game. And it always happens even during tense situations in practice, or in games. Ping. he is the most intense guy, he is the most fun loving,” said Reyes.