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NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo met with Cate basketball coach Andy Gil for practice at UCSB on July 18. 

 

This summer, Cate School basketball coach Andy Gil has been rubbing elbows with some of the NBA’s elite on the courts at University of California Santa Barbara. Most recently, on July 18, Gil worked out with reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, aka the Greek Freak, and NBA three-point specialist Kyle Korver at UCSB’s Thunderdome. 

“It’s kind of a wild story,” said Gil, who will be entering his fifth season as the Rams coach.  

A former Santa Barbara High School basketball teammate of Gil’s, Ross McMains, a skills development trainer for the New York Knicks, invited Gil to work out with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kyle Korver.  

“Ross called me and said, ‘hey we got two guys coming in and we need an extra hand,’” said Gil. “He (McMains) didn’t want to initially tell me who it was. I told him ‘(I have) a pretty busy afternoon,’” explained the Don alum, but when he discovered that he would be playing with the NBA MVP, Gil changed his plans.     

This year has been an eventful one for Gil. He and his wife Amy (Bryant) Gil, a former Carpinteria girls basketball coach, welcomed their first child, baby boy Crew. Later that same day, the Rams faced crosstown rival Carpinteria High School in a CIF Southern Section Division Five-A quarterfinal matchup at Warriors Gym. In front of a raucous crowd, Cate fell behind by double digits, capturing the lead in the second half—only losing in the final two minutes.

“Those free throws still haunt me, that game was so winnable,” lamented Gil of the six free throws his team missed during the final minutes of the game.

The Rams basketball program has thrived during Gil’s tenure. In the year prior to his arrival, the Rams finished 5-13 overall and 1-11 in league. Since that time, Cate has reached the quarterfinals twice, and looks to be in a good position for the upcoming season. “We’re returning all but one starter, so we should be okay next year,” said Gil. 

Gil’s emphasis on defense has helped to make the Rams consistently competitive. “We know that points are going to come, but we need to get stops,” explained Gil. “Yes, we do spend the first 25 minutes (practice time) on defense,” he added. 

Growing up, Gil was influenced by great coaches: George Albanez of 805 Club basketball, John Ward, Sr., former Carpinteria athletic director/coach and Bishop Diego coach, his son Johnny Ward, Jr. who also coached the Warriors, Dave Bregante who recently retired from Santa Barbara and Joseph Bregante, Dave’s son who coached the Dons.

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