Former BG Baskets Hamburg player and British international Gaz Choudhry talks about the differences between the German and the Spanish league, the upcoming Champions League clash in Cantu with his new club BSR Amiab Albacete and his English buddies and teammates Lee Manning, Dan Highcock & Kyle Marsh.
You moved from Hamburg to Albacate last year. What was the main reason that you left Hamburg?
I moved to Albacate from Hamburg. It was just a better fit for me at this point of my basketball career and also life.
Do you still follow the German league? And what do you think about the results so far?
I definitely still follow the Rollstuhlbasketball-Bundesliga. The results have been really interesting. It seems like it’s a very close league. Thuringia and Lahn-Dill seem to be the best teams of the first division again, but you know, Trier had some great results and some of the other teams have been really close so it’s been a great league to follow, as always.
What’s the biggest difference between the Spanish and the German league? Which league is stronger in your eyes?
One of the main differences of the German and the Spanish league, maybe the travel. The travel is a little bit more in Spain, but at least in terms of competitive levels are pretty close and I think overall, the Spanish division is a little bit bigger. Between the Spanish and the German first division I think, there isn’t that much difference. They’re definitely the two best leagues in Europe at the moment. Since the Italian first division has gotten slightly weaker, especially with the rule of having two Italian players on court at all times, it’s definitely made the German and the Spanish league even stronger than they have been in the past. So there hasn’t been too much of a difference between the two, I think in terms of overall quality.
Having all those British guys on the same team is great. Obviously, having a group of friends when you come to a new place that have been there before and they can show you around is perfect. But, Hamburg were phenomenal, as well. In terms of making you feel like you’re a part of the family. So I think, yeah it does help having the British on the same team, but Hamburg did a fantastic job over there, too.
Your team is at the top of the Spanish league, in front of CD Ilunion. What makes your team so strong?
I think we have a strong squad this year and a big opportunity in front of us. We are a new team, so we’re kinda learning as things are going on and challenges of the season. And I think our balance makes us really good, that we have decent size and decent shooting and decent quickness so we manage to put all those things together at the same time, I think we can be successful.
The big champions league clash is taking place in Cantu this weekend. These four teams are all strong enough to be at the Final Four in Hamburg. The crème de la crème in Europe: Galatasaray, Thuringia Bulls, Albacete and Cantu. All these teams are standing at the top of their leagues. The wheelchair basketball fans‘ heart skip a beat when they hear the names of these European top clubs. How do you feel as a sportsman, when you hear those club names and read the line-ups of the teams?
It’s fantastic playing in these types of games, you know this is why you train as an athlete and play wheelchair basketball is to play in big games against great teams. It’s really exciting.
What needs to happen, for Albacate to make it to the next round?
I think if we have to play to our potential then we will have a great chance at making it to the next round. I mean, the group is so tough. You’ve got three of the winners of the qualifying groups all in the same group, plus Cantu, the champions of Italy of the last two years and every single year they’re getting better and better. So yeah, it’s a really tough challenging group and if we manage to get it all together during the weekend, we have a good chance of getting it through.
Can you say two or three words about your opponents in Cantu? What are their strengths?
Cantu great size, they obviously have great potential and great history. Having played there before for two seasons. I was lucky enough to be part of a team that won the title there. And they’re very similar to the teams of the last few years, they’re big, they’ve got good shooting, they’ve got quickness, they’ve got good low pointers and really good mid-pointers, so they’re really good at all and they just have the fantastic club and they’re fans are amazing, so it’s gonna be a great weekend in Cantu.
Which two teams will make it to Hamburg?
I’m not sure about the other teams, but obviously I’m biased, but I’d like to think that we will get to the second round, but it will be really, really tough competition so I can’t wait to get started now.
Last question: If you could compose a wheelchair basketball world selection. Which players would be in your starting five?
In terms of the all-star five selection, there are just so many great players in the world now. I think that sports have never been in a greater position in terms of having so many world-class players playing at the same time. Because of competitions like this and how long they’ve been going on and how professional the sport is now. It would just be too difficult to pick an all-star five from the world.
Thanks for your time, Gaz.
Interview: Martin Schenk | Helping hand: Joe Bestwick & Emma Schenk | Foto: Steffie Wunderl