By Stefan Djordjevic/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Medi Bayreuth is having a great season in the Basketball Champions League. The German team qualified for the quarterfinals and will meet another German team as they are facing MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg.
The last time they met for the German League, Ludwigsburg won by 31 points (78-47) and that’s why York knows that things are not going to be easy.
“I think, personally, last time we didn’t play very well both offensively and defensively. Obviously, when losing by 30 points, there aren’t many things you do well in a basketball game. I think overall for us to advance, it just has to be a complete basketball game from our team, everyone has to play really well. We have to find ways to beat their press. They’re a full court press basketball team, so we have to try and find ways to beat that and get down the court, get buckets quickly in the shot clock. When we start with only 13, 12 seconds left on the shot clock, trying to get into a play… it’s too hard for us to try and run something, so, basically, we just have to beat the press and get down the court quickly.“, explained Gabe York.
Gabe York is arguably the best player in Bayreuth this season. He is averaging 17.5 points per game in the Basketball Champions League. He also made it to the team of the week a couple of times, the fifth overall scorer in the competition.
“I think there is always room for improvement. If there wasn’t I would probably be in the NBA right now. I think the biggest thing is trying to find grooves of shooting three-pointers, shooting twos, layups and not just being a three-point shooter. I tend to settle for three-point jump shots if the defense is too clogged up. I think I could definitely average more if I found ways to get into the paint and find easier ways to score other than just shooting threes“, explained the player himself.
However, being in Germany and playing for a club like Bayreuth is a great experience. “I like it a lot. It’s a lot different from Los Angeles where I’m from. It’s a lot smaller, much quieter but the people here are great. My mom has so many friends from Bayreuth that she talks to me on Facebook and texts me every day telling me there’s someone saying: “Thank you so much for bringing Gabe over here…”, and this and that. So it’s definitely been a blessing to be over here and continue my pro basketball career here and getting to know guys. Seven of them returning from last year. That’s a big reason I came. When you have seven players returning, it talks to you about the team and what they’re about.” said York.
On a personal level, basketball has been a great journey so far for the US guard and also a family matter. “My mom and my brother would probably be my guiding light. My mom worked two or three jobs growing up for my brother and me, so I would definitely say her. She has been the strongest part of my life, just kept fighting the obstacles and trials, everything I’ve been through. My brother has kind of been my role model ever since I was three years old and can remember”.
The competition between the two siblings was a driving force for York. It has always been my brother, everything he’s done I’ve wanted to do and be better at. You know, just being the annoying little brother. So, I’d probably say those two were my guiding light more than anybody else. Basketball role-model? At this point, I don’t really have one since I’m right around the same age as all those guys now, but growing up it was definitely my brother trying to beat him and be better than him”.
York faced a lot of hardship, especially in his younger days during high school and college. His path to this point was certainly not easy.
“Like I said, it’s been a lot of obstacles I had to overcome. Even growing up, no money, my mom like I said working two or three jobs, not seeing her really while growing up, my grandparents had to take care of my brother and me. From right when I was born it was never easy. There was always something my family had to overcome and that’s kind of how my basketball career panned out as well. I was a top 30 player in high school, went to college, my first year I don’t play at all, lose all the hype around my name and it was just tough trying to get into the groove in college.
I kind of went from being a scorer to: ”Ok, just shoot the ball, don’t even dribble, just try shooting”, and so I had to refocus and find my groove again. I think God had a plan of me coming here and coach Korner (Raoul) has done a great job of just letting me play basketball and letting me become who I am again, which is a scorer and not just a shooter. So, I think overall, the hardships and trials I’ve been through have been something that made me a better basketball player and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
If I had to do it all over again I would, just based on the fact that I’m a lot stronger mentally, a lot more focused and I can go through hardships and not feel like it’s the end of the world“.
Becoming a team captain in his senior year in college was one of the key moments for York in his career.
“I could always talk about my senior year in college where I kind of became the team captain, the go-to guy on our team. And that was all good and well but there was still something missing. I didn’t have that ultimate confidence that I’ve had since I came here to Bayreuth and I think that’s a funny way of god just letting me know: “Ok, listen, I’ve put you through all of this. Now it’s time to get back up on top”. I know there are five players from this league last year, I think, who made it to the NBA and obviously that’s my goal. So, I would definitely say Bayreuth has been the focal point of my career so far, to get me back on track and figure out a way to get back to the States and get to the NBA”
Thinking too far ahead is not part of Gabe York’s plan. He is focused on small steps every day and next games. One step at the time…
“You never want to look too far ahead, just based on the fact that you always want to give it you’re all in the now and everything you have for what’s going on at your exact moment. So, right now I’m thinking about Saturday and playing against Oldenburg. I think that’s a very big game for us because it’s the battle for the fourth place and I think that is what I’m more focused on. You know, I’m going home in about two and a half months. Even if we make it all the way to the end of the playoffs, there are about two and a half months left so it’s hard enough not to think about that. I just try to take it one day at a time, getting ready for practice this week and getting ready for Saturday”.
Photo credit: BCL