Jeff Gibbs is a 32 year old 18cm forward/center from Columbus, Ohio that is playing his third season in Japan for Toyota Alvark. He played at Otterbein(NCAA3) from 1998 to 2002. He was NCAA3 champion and Final Four MVP in 2002. He holds the record for rebounds in a game (25) at NCAA3 Final Four, record for rebounds (40) in a NCAA3 Final Four and holds Otterbein’s record for career rebounds. He went to Germany in 2003 to start his professional basketball career to play for TSG Ehingen. In 2004-2005, he tore up the second Bundesliga playing 22 games and averaging 21.5ppg, Reb-1(12.8rpg), 1.8apg, 2.3spg, 1.2bpg, 2FGP: 62.6%, 3FGP: 31.6%, FT: 70.7%. In 2005, he went to Ratiopharm Ulm where he would play for until 2009. In 2005-2006, the team won the second Bundesliga south and came to the BBL. He was the BBL top rebounder for three straight years (2007,2008,2009). In 2009-2010, he played for the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven playing 44 games: 13.9ppg, Reb-1(8.6rpg), 1.5apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 54.9%, 3PT: 38.9%, FT: 73.5%. Last season for Toyota Alvark, he played 48 games: 12.9ppg, 8.2rpg, 1.7apg, Steals-4(1.6spg), FGP-2(57.3%), 3PT-1(43.8%), FT: 72.0%. He had 10 double doubles. He returned back to Frankfurt for an exhibition game against the Fraport Skyliners and spoke to German Hoops..
Welcome back to Germany Jeff. You are back in Germany playing an exhibition series against TBB Trier, FC Bayern Munich and the Fraport Skyliners. How happy are you to be back?
I am very happy to be back. I saw some Ulm fans at the game against Munich in Rosenheim. It is cool that Munich is playing in the BBL. I always thought that they should of had a team in the league considering the budget that they have. It was a great experience playing against them despite losing.
What have you missed most about Germany?
I have missed everything especially the homely atmosphere. My wife loved it as much as I did. Germany will always be a second home to me. I couldn´t wait to have Wiener Schnitzel and Pommes when I got to Germany. I had it in Trier at a nice restaurant with Don Beck.
Today you play against the Fraport Skyliners. When I say the name Eric Chadfield, what is the first thing that pops to mind?
My very first game in the BBL in Frankfurt. We are leading the whole game an dthen he beats us on a buzzer beater. I remember head coach Mike Taylor saying after the game that all games will be like that in the BBL coming down to the wire.
Who was your favorite Skyliner to play against?
I always liked to play against Derrick Allen, because we played the same position and always had great battles. I am a bit surprised that he went to Belgium. I thought that he would stay in Berlin. I think that he will have a great season there and surprise many there.
You suffered a five game semi final loss to Frankfurt in 2010 with Bremerhaven. Would you have gone all the way if you had reached the final?
It would have been tough, but I think that it would have gone five games. We split against Bamberg that season 1-1. We would have had Kevin Lyde back who gives many match up problems. I think we would have edged it out.
The Fraport Skyliners have three try-out players, 3 players you played against with Quantez Robertson(injured), Marius Nolte and Johannes Herber and many question marks. What can we expect from the game?
I hardly know anyone on the team. I remember Nolte always being a hrad worker and Herber being injured, but I am happy that he is fit again. We will go in execute and just play hard.
You are playing your third year in Japan. You seem to like it there. Was it just the money or why did you turn your back on Germany, a place where you were loved by the fans?
I have stayed in Japan for three reasons. The money, I wanted to try something new and head coach Don Beck was able to sell me Toyota Alvark has a product where I would be happy.
What was the most difficult obstacle that you ahd to get used to on the court in the JBL league in Japan?
It was the same as when I first came to Germany in that I had to get used to how the refs officiate. They didn´t know how to call my style. It took me a season to get used to how they officiate.
What was the most difficult obstacle that you and your family had to get used with the Japanese culture?
The language barrier. Me and the other Americans try to learn new words from our teammates. I also remember the first time that I went to the gym, I was stopped for not taking my shoes off. These were all things that I had to get used to. The culture is different, but I like it.
In Germany you had Mike Taylor and Doug Spradley as coach. How has Don Beck made you better as a player?
He gets on me more than Mike Taylor and Doug Spradley did. He just has pushed me very hard. Don Beck is all about defense. I am a much better defender now than when I played in the BBL. Beck always wants me to give 110%. The little things on defense are very important for him for me to do well.
You are 32 now. Is there any chance you might return back to the Beko BBL?
You never know.
Ratiopharm Ulm went to the final last season. Despite all this success last season, how much credit should a Mike Taylor get for getting ratiopharm Ulm to the point that Thorsten Leibenath took over?
Mike did a great job with ratiopharm Ulm. He was very good at getting very good players with their limited budget. Most of the guys last season with the exception of Swann and Esterkamp were from his team the year before. Mike was a players coach that ate and slept basketball. He helped me in many different ways and always told me how good I could get if I kept working hard.
Do you still keep in contact with Ulm players?
Yes I do. I have contact with Bryan Lucas, Jonathan Levy, Austin Rowland, Sean Finn and Emeke Erege. I also keep in contact with Steve Esterkamp who comes from the same place as I do in Ohio and say hi to Per Guether on occasion.
Who was the toughest player that you played against in the Beko BBL?
That is tough. I can´t really name one player, but will say the whole team of John Patrick. BG Goettingen always triple teamed me.
FC Bayern Munich have a potent front court in the Beko BBL with Chevon Troutman, Jare Homan, Lawrence Roberts, Jan Jagla and Alexsander Nadjfeji. Are they the best front court in the Beko BBL?
They have a pretty big front court. Homan is pretty physical that always works hard. I did pretty well against him. They will really dominate. I really like Tyrese Rice. He will really help that team.
Who wins a one on one, you or ex NBA player Jerald Honeycutt?
He is still very skilled for his age. He still shows his veteran moves. I did very well against him in the games.
Who wins in their prime? The Dream team or Team USA 2012?
The Dream team would win. They had 11/12 NBA Hall of famers. They had much more defensive presence. They also had very good big men with Karl Malone and Patrick Ewing. They would have wore down Lebron who would have had to play the four position.
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
The TV show Necessary Roughness
Thanks Jeff for the chat