Matthew Gibson : “Each country is unique and special”

American swingman Matthew Gibson (6’5”, 32 years old) has already made a great basketball professional career overseas. The new player of Nürnberg (Germany) accepted to speak with about his experience.

Can you introduce yourself? How did you started playing basketball?
Hello, my name is Matt Gibson. I was born and raised in Bethany, Oklahoma. It’s a small city suburb of Oklahoma City. My parents are Lon and Linda and my younger brother is Hunter. We are a family of athletic backgrounds mostly in basketball. My mother ran track and played tennis and my father was a college basketball and professional player. He played his whole career in Carcassone, France and he still visits his old teammates and coach (George Dubernat) almost every year. My brother was also D-1 and professional player before his career ended due to injury. So basketball was always a big part of my life from the first days.

How can you describe your game?
My game has changed over time. I have tried to adapt it to the different levels and different years during my career. In the beginning it was all about energy and speed. I was known for playing at a very high pace and being a top scorer in my team during college and in my first 4 years pro. Now the past 3 season I have tried to grow as more of a team guy especially in my passing and reading of the game. So now for the past 3 seasons i have been the top assist guy in my team. Also less risk taking on defense and more focus on being in the right positions to help instead of the earlier years always gambling and trying to make steals.

What was your basketball path when you grew up? Where did you played?
I started playing early in the AAU circuit with hall of fame coach AD Burtschi at age 9 and we traveled around the country every summer for the big time tournaments. I would eventually play in high school for the same coach at Putnam City High School which is a power house for basketball in oklahoma. From their I moved to Three Rivers College in Missouri and played for another Hall of Fame coach name Gene Bess who is the all time most winning coach in juco history. After one year there I went to the University of Hawaii to play for yet another Hall of Fame coach name Riley Wallace. I was very lucky to have so many great quality coaches growing up. After 4 years at Hawaii I turned pro in 2009.

During your pro career, you played in France, Finland, Hungary, Romania, Mexico, Venezuela… What are the differences between Europe and South America?
There are differences in every league in every country. Each has its own personality and qualities. The differences for me in South America and Europe are the tactical approaches and job security. There is not long preseasons in south America like in europe and the players can change every week. So there is no time to develop true systems of offense and defense and if you don’t speak spanish it is very difficult to communicate. Thankfully I do speak decent spanish so I was able to adapt a bit quicker. The style of play is more comparable to street ball or pick up games but at a very high level and high pace because the players in south america are very fast and very athletic. There is also a lot less focus on practice because games are played more frequently. This is all just my opinion of course based on the two countries I played down south.

The upcoming season, that will be your first experience in Germany, an other great championship. Are you excited? What do you know about basketball in Germany?
I am very excited about my new job and new team in Germany pro A league. I have heard good things about it and I know quite a few players who played or still play there. I don’t know for sure anything yet but my expectations are high.

Is life different overseas comparing teams themselves?
Life is very different everywhere I have been. In all 7 countries I have played before this season I have experience different culture, personalities, languages, currencies, and qualities of each country. They are all unique and special in there own ways and I can only say that I am very lucky to have been able to experience life in so many ways.

What did you do during summer to prepare the next season?
This summer I was training with my father and my brother who are always there to help me and instruct me. I also work with other european pros who are from oklahoma city. I did not do much playing 5 on 5 maybe only one time a week because my focus was on sharping my fundamental tools and working now on my body since I will be 33 in october. I was working less with heavy weights and more with own body weight, stability, balancing, core, and muscle endurance. Also more low impact cardio training. I have a friend in France (Matt Gamberoni) who provided me with a workout plan and meal plan that I was trying my best to follow. But still enjoying summer and my mothers cooking. lol.

What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are still with basketball. Although now my focus has shifted a bit from my younger years. My wife Anni Makitalo is playing in top league Germany this year in Donau Reis and last year she was also with me in the east of France. We have been fortunate to find jobs near each other in the past 4 years and we hope to continue this journey together so we can share these wonderful experiences with life and love and basketball until the day we retire.

We recommend you 👍