UH RAINBOWS BASKETBALL
Ex-’Bow Gibson keeping busy
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Former Hawaii guard Matt Gibson is looking forward to continuing his journey on the court and embarking on new ones away from the floor.
Gibson, the Rainbow Warriors' leading scorer last season, returned to Hawaii this week after starting his professional basketball career in Venezuela, where he averaged 15.9 points and 3.2 assists as a midseason addition with Marinos de Anzoategui.
He's taking some time off to finish a class, rest a knee he had surgery on after the UH season and make plans for the next step in his career, all while looking ahead to the birth of a daughter in October.
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Running the transition game has taken on new meaning for Matt Gibson.
Scored 15.9 points per game while playing in Venezuela
Since completing his four-year run at Hawaii in March, the former Rainbow Warriors guard experienced basketball at a new level in a different country all while awaiting the arrival of a new addition to the family.
Gibson returned to Hawaii this week to finish up some remaining school work following a 13-game stint with Marinos de Anzoategui, a professional team in Venezuela.
"For my first deal it was pretty good and it was a good experience," said Gibson, among the Rainbow seniors now pursuing professional careers overseas along with Jared Dillinger (Philippines) and Bobby Nash (Japan).
"I got to see a pretty good level of basketball. They have some pretty big, athletic guys over there and the American guys are all veterans, 28-29, big, strong and have been playing professional for a while."
He joined the team on June 6 and averaged 15.9 points and 3.2 assists in his first taste of pro ball. He shot 53 percent from 3-point range (41-for-78) and hit for 30 points in an 85-84 win over Deportivo Tachira on June 17.
While adapting to the level of play on the court as a midseason addition, Gibson also had to grow accustomed to the raucous atmosphere in the arenas, which took fan involvement to heights he never experienced in college.
"We lost one game and had another game go into double overtime because the fans were throwing beer and ice and food on the court," Gibson said. "They do the chants like at the soccer games. The place was packed and it was just crazy."
Gibson said he hadn't been to South America prior to joining the Marinos and though dealing with the language barrier was tough, "my experience in Hawaii prepared me for any cultural changes," he said. "You know that you have to try to get involved in the culture and fit in."
After UH finished its season, Gibson had surgery to clean out a knee that bothered him late in the Rainbows' 11-19 campaign in which he averaged a team-high 17 points per game and dished out 121 assists.
He was cleared by doctors, but he said the knee still wasn't quite back to full strength and he felt the effects of the team's two-a-day practices and playing three games per week. The turnaround from playing at 8 p.m. on a Saturday and again at noon on Sunday was particularly rough.
As Gibson enters a new phase of his playing career, he's also anticipating starting a new chapter in his life. Gibson and his girlfriend, Jacelyn Oshiro, are expecting a daughter in October, giving him a new set of priorities and outlook on basketball.
He said after he committed to play for the Marinos, his agent received a call from the Golden State Warriors regarding a possible tryout. But knowing the long odds facing a rookie free agent making an NBA roster, he opted to start earning a paycheck in Venezuela.
Gibson said his agent, Ben Pensack (who also represents former UH guard Matt Lojeski), has been in contact with teams in Germany and Belgium, and returning to Venezuela next season is also an option. He said he anticipates signing a contract within the month and those discussions have included provisions for bringing his family with him.
"I'm excited, it's a new experience and a new challenge," Gibson said. "I'm just glad I have the opportunity to play basketball to provide for my family now.
"It keeps me focused and keeps my eyes on the future. It puts a lot of things in perspective and makes you take a step back and prepare for the future. ... Right now I just want to play the game as long as I can and set a solid foundation for my family."