Timmy Gibbs & the ABA Tijuana Diablos: Mexican NBA Talent RISES
Talking with head ABA Diablos coach Timmy Gibbs makes you think. Gibbs is in
the nicest sense of the phrase “a cold piece of work” who hails from
Brooklyn, New York and has excelled in coaching in the ABA team this last
year, even SLAM Magazine did an article on him because he has major game.
Personally, I predict he will do to the ABA what Red Auerbach did for the
Boston Celtics did in the 1960’s: inspire talented players to behave like a
team and win like there’s no tomorrow.
Why am I so sure? Last month, I was covering the NBA’s Summer Pro League in
Long Beach and threw out the name of Mexican Enrique Zuniga who was one of
Gibb’s finest players from last year’s Diablo team, an NBA scout yelled out
to me, “Yeah, he’s gooood, we’re tracking him and he has a good shot at
making some team in this league.” Zuniga has fluid passing skills, he
separates easy from defenders on his shot, and he has decent height to play
in the NBA.
Years ago, Timmy Gibbs is a talented player in his own right out of Weber St. in Utah, he plans on having more Mexican born players on his ABA team because of their work ethic level and states on this, "Some of the top players in Mexico are Omar Quintero, a player who lead the pre Olympic tournament in scoring, Victor Mariscal who started his pro career as a teammate of mine at age 17, Victor Avila a 6’8 forward who played at the University of Oklahoma, Enrique Zuniga a 6’5 point guard who has impressed NBA scouts with his poise and leadership qualities to name a few." Gibbs does have his work cut out for him in the ABA, playing against top teams like the Long Beach Jam that featured former NBA draft lottery selection Demarr Johnson and UCLA Alum Matt Barnes the Diablos were given everything they could handle last year and held their own in the wins column with superior coaching and hustle. What’s next for Gibbs, "I’ve inked a deal to play with the Lobos Plateado de BUAP in Puebla, Mexico of the LNBP league. I will return to the side lines at the start of the ABA season." Yes, this guy reminds me a lot of Bill Russell with his drive, expertise, and ability to play for a team that needs a spark and also coaches extremely well. Timmy Gibbs is just one of many success stories coming out of Mexico these days: there are many other basketball personalities worthy of world attention as well. The Bob Costas of Mexican basketball reporting worth checking out are Patty Ramirez, Miguel Garcia, and Alex Martinez, and Gianni Pascucci who all write detailed tidbits on the current Pro Leagues for the definitive website dedicated to this region called, www.latinbasket.com, check this site out if you want to know everything about anything regarding basketball in Mexico. Many fans around the world know of Eduardo Najera, he is the skilled forward from the Dallas Mavs that I’m excited to interview with over the phone or hopefully in Mexico, the nice PR folks of his NBA team promised to track him down for me. Najeras has a great story to tell, another real pioneer of the Mexican basketball scene whom I’m also excited to meet soon is 6-11 Horacio Llamas, he played good minutes for the Phoenix Suns a few seasons back and carries the distinction of being the first Mexican to ever play in the NBA, Llamas along with 7-0 Adam Parada of the Summer Pro Am Sacramento Kings are incredibly good role models in addition to being skilled big men. Parada took some time after his game against the L.A. Lakers to meet with 14 year old Edgar Garibay who stands 6-9, he is soon to be a freshman at Compton high school in California, Parada should be commended for giving Edgar advice and counseling him on how to be a solid fundamental big man. Edgar stated of the experience, "Adam was a super guy to meet and learn from today, he plays good like I want to in high school, I need to get good grades to get into a tough academic school like he did at UC Irvine someday, I just need to stay humble and work out with tough comp so maybe I can be in the NBA someday too." Getting gback to Gibbs this tough guy with the heart of gold should be given props because he has worked hard to help an organization known as Basketball Unidos put together a camp in Mexico next month, they are putting together a quality event on par with the NBA’s Basketball without Borders in September of 2004 in Torreon, Mexico. 50 talented high school old players in Mexico have been invited to attend this camp that will be conducted by recently graduated 6-5 UCSB guard Nick Jones, he is in town to play for a pro team and states on his goal for helping with the camp, "If Horacio Llamas is able to come over here with other top National Team players that are invited than the youngsters will get the training they need to make the next level, that’s a dream come true for me to help pass along the mentoring to these kids that helped me get into college when I was growing up in Oxnard, California, we’re hopefully going to make this a big event for years to come." Personally, I think that Mexico is going through the same phase that Yugoslavia went through in the early 1990’s, that European region has produced a legion of Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovich caliber players that have contributed much in the last 15 years to the NBA. With top basketball talents in Mexico like Timmy Gibbs and Ernesto Zunigas we’re seeing Mexico get put on the map, the world is now seeing a new breed of Mexican player: stronger, faster, and better trained in the 21st century. Look out ABA, look out NBA, the Mexicans are coming and the basketball world may never be the same.