Brose Baskets Bamberg has become a regular in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague action over the past four years, and point guard Anton Gavel can be proud of his part in the club’s rise into perennial German champion and Euroleague Top 16 contender. As one of its leaders, Gavel is yet to miss a Euroleague start this season, and has started 42 of 43 Euroleague games he has played in over the previous three years as Bamberg was putting a scare into some of the biggest clubs in Europe and last season qualified for the Top 16 for the second time in club history. This season, with his usual averages of 10.3 points and 3.0 assists per game, while connecting on 48% of three-point shots, Gavel has helped put Bamberg into Top 16 contention yet again.
His path to the Euroleague success required some additional sacrifices to the usual challenges professional athletes are faced with. Growing up in Slovakia, a country that is yet to have a Euroleague team, Gavel did not see many basketball opportunities to match his ambition. He left his homeland as a teenager to pursue a basketball career in Germany, however, his real break came 10 years later. He was back in Slovakia when he received a call from Bamberg to sign a one-month contract as a replacement for an injured player. Since then, Gavel and Bamberg haven't looked back and he has helped the team become German champion and reach the Euroleague four times in a row.
“I left Slovakia when I was 16. I left my parents, whole family, left my friends and went to Germany,” Gavel said of the tough decision he made while still a teenager. “I did not know what to expect. Tried to do everything by myself, it was a huge step for me. But I developed a lot as a person, not just as a player.”
He went on to build a successful career, spending five years in Germany in addition to stops in the Spanish and Greek Leagues. But Gavel found himself home in Slovakia again in 2009, unsure about his future.
“I did not have a job, I was pretty much waiting for the offer. I was kind of nervous.”
But that’s when Bamberg called. The team had an injury, and needed a point guard. Several months later, Bamberg and Gavel became German champs and also qualified for the Euroleague.
“My dream came true. I did not know we would achieve our goals with Bamberg, win the [German] League and play in Euroleague. When that happened, I could not believe we would play against the best in Europe.”
It's been all good since then. As a full-time starter, Gavel has taken a prime role as of one of the leaders of the team that has dominated the German League over the past four years and has played in as many Euroleague seasons. Gavel has collected more than 500 Euroleague points and is approaching 150 career assists, something that was hard to imagine just four years earlier, when he played a few games for Svit in Slovakia.
“That was always my dream. Euroleague was even higher for me than NBA or any other league.”
For Gavel it has been an ongoing dream for five years now during which he accomplished many of his career goals. His perseverance, though, serves as an example for many others, and Gavel hopes it can also help popularize basketball in Slovakia.
“I try to show them basketball is a good sport. You can make it far, you can play great competitions like Euroleague, and I hope I can help a little bit to make basketball more popular in my country.”