After a standout basketball career at Live Oak High that culminated in being named the 2021-2022 Blossom Valley Athletic League’s Santa Teresa East Division Most Valuable Player, Gus Giba was hoping to receive some interest from community college coaches.
Only one, De Anza College, expressed serious interest, Giba said. Not that the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder needed any more motivation, but he’ll use it as an extra dose of energy for his post high school playing days at De Anza.
“It’s big-time fuel,” he said. “It was interesting not to hear anything from other coaches. I’m actually still not sure what the reason was, but I’m going to use it to my advantage.”
Live Oak awards its top athletes every June and similar to past years, the latest crop of athletes were truly exceptional in their sports. Giba earned the Male Senior Athlete of the Year. Other boys winners included Colby Allen (Junior of the Year), Keaton Dietz (Sophomore of the Year), Bennett Nishikawa (Freshman of the Year) and Caden Leedy (Scholar Athlete of the Year).
The girls winners included Ashley Brink (Senior Athlete of the Year), Emma Ghione (Junior of the Year), Maya Rafat (Sophomore of the Year), Maddie Vasquez (Freshman of the Year) and Deja Jimenez (Scholar Athlete of the Year). The award ceremony was held on the football field in the final week of May.
In girls lacrosse, Ghione earned BVAL Mount Hamilton Division First Team honors at midfielder, and teammate Brink made the Second Team as a midfielder. In girls soccer, Vasquez earned BVAL Santa Teresa Division Freshman of the Year and First Team honors.
Rafat earned BVAL Santa Teresa East Division First Team honors in girls basketball. In addition to lacrosse, Brink played field hockey in the fall and soccer in the winter, making her a three-sport standout.
At the end of the school year, Brink got selected to play in a NorCal Lacrosse All Star Game in Orinda, an event she counted as one of the top highlights in her athletic career because only a total of 40 players from the Bay Area earned a spot to play in the game.
Brink said earning the Female Senior Athlete of the Year award was a nice capstone moment to her time at Live Oak.
“It felt really good hearing my name called,” she said. “Just being there with my friends and family was a really cool moment.”
Giba experienced similar emotions about receiving his award. The school and Athletic Director Mike Gemo do a good job of keeping the award winners secret until specific speakers are called up to the microphone to talk about the individuals.
“It was definitely a special night,” said Giba, who also was a starter on the boys golf team in the spring. “The emotions don’t hit you until the end.”
Giba counts the Acorns’ Senior Night Basketball Game against crosstown rival Sobrato High on Feb. 11 as one of the highlights of his career. Even though Live Oak lost 65-53, Giba had another monster game just like he did in the teams’ first matchup a month earlier.
“It was a tough loss in front of a big crowd, but I had a really good game and there couldn’t have been a more perfect time to showcase my talents,” said Giba, who averaged 21 points and 13 rebounds per game last season. “I can still hear the roar of the crowd and wouldn’t trade that in for anything else.”
Giba has the potential to excel at the tougher community college level. He’s got the size, skill and tenacity to compete against athletes who are more experienced and talented compared to the high school game. Giba knows how to play physical and tough inside and those will be key in his time at De Anza.
Giba said the De Anza coach liked his ability to rebound and play inside. It’s often said that you can’t teach height, and Giba is glad to have it.
“My dad is barely 5-11 and my mom is 5-5, so I don’t know where I got it from but I’m lucky enough to get it,” he said.
Golf runs in the Giba family and Gus only started playing regularly a couple of years ago after discovering he could consistently hit it long off the tee. Acorns coach Mark Cummins played a vital role in helping Giba foster a love for the game.
“The energy he gives on the course and as a teacher really made me fall in love with the sport,” Giba said. “Golf is also something my brother, dad and I love to do. It’s something we can play together for the rest of our lives, which is something my dad emphasized. I wouldn’t say we’re any good; we just like playing the sport. My brother has the smoothest swing, I can hit it the farthest and my dad has the most experience.”
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]