By winning its last three games, German champion Brose Bamberg has bounced back from a tough start to climb into the top half of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague standings. One of the factors for its good momentum has been the play of big man Augustine Rubit. A EuroLeague rookie, Rubit overcame many obstacles to reach this stage. As a boy his older sister and godmother played key roles in Rubit remaining out of Child Protective Services, but he also skipped a year of school. When Rubit became serious about basketball, he met the Trauber family, who helped him catch up on his studies and get ready for college. The Traubers became his second family and Rubit eventually went to college and majored in communications before starting his professional career in Germany, first with ratiopharm Ulm for two years before joining Bamberg. Living in Germany has been a new start for Rubit, too, as he said in this EuroLeague.net interview. "It is very comfortable; I like the people, the league and the style. So I got used to playing here and Germany feels closer to home than any other place would," Rubit told EuroLeague.net. "There are a lot of English-speaking people, too, and Germans being so well-organized makes things a lot easier. You don't really need to stress about anything."
Hello, Augustine. Brose Bamberg has won three consecutive games, the last against Crvena Zvezda in Belgrade. How did you overcome the atmosphere to win in a place only a few teams win?
"Thank you. Well, Luka [Mitrovic] is from there and has been my roommate all year. He has been telling me about it all season! So I kind of had an idea, just like the typical stuff. You can't let them get the easy plays and come out aggressive because once they do, the crowd gets going and it is hard to beat those guys in a place like that. That was the main focus: try to limit mistakes and come out aggressive so that they won't take over the initiative of the game. Once they get in control, they can hurt us pretty hard, too."
The club signed Dorell Wright and things are better for Brose since he arrived. How is he helping the team?
"Perimeter shooting, experience... and how he reads the game, defensively. How he gets out in transition playing at the '4' spot. He can put it on the floor, shoot, space the floor, plus he is athletic. In his first game, we didn't really get to practice and he didn't really know any of us, but he came out with passion like he has been there since preseason. Right away, everybody got a feel for him, with all those blocks, corner threes, big plays. Since the day we met, he has basically been good. We hope to keep building on that."
This is your first EuroLeague season, but you had a quick adjustment to the competition. Did your two EuroCup seasons with Ulm help you adjust so quickly?
"I think that all three levels, the German League, EuroCup and EuroLeague, are different styles of playing. The EuroCup is faster and I feel like that the [German League] is also faster, but I think it is just part of playing with better players, too. We have a great coach here who puts us in a position to give you the tools that you really need. It helps you to go out there and learn from your teammates and your coach. It has been good so far."
So far, what do you like about the EuroLeague compared to all the competitions you played before?
"I think that basically, you get to play against the best competition. You get to play against people you heard about when you were younger and since I got over here, I watched some EuroLeague games and saw those guys. You get to play against the best and that is the best part about basketball. The majority of players want to play at the highest level possible and besides the NBA, this is definitely the highest level. Of course, you get to travel and play against well-known teams in well-known arenas. When I was playing the EuroCup, there were a lot of teams that my family never really heard about and in the EuroLeague, they heard about certain names. That is the best part."
You have played in Germany since the start of your professional career. What do you like about the country that has led you to stick around for so long?
"I am a home person and had a tough adjustment when I came over just being away, but I got used to the living. It is very comfortable; I like the people, the league and the style. So I got used to playing here and Germany feels closer to home than any other place would. There are a lot of English-speaking people, too, and Germans being so well-organized makes things a lot easier. You don't really need to stress about anything. It is totally different from home; I come here, your neighbors help you out and there is always somebody there just to have your back. That way, it is easier being here."
Did growing up in a tough environment make you appreciate your current success even more?
"Oh, definitely. I saw people who were top players, taller and better than me at the time in high school, and I see where they are now because of the chances they took and things like that. It is definitely a blessing. Once I realized I could be doing this for the rest of my life, I took it seriously and started to work really hard at it. I definitely believe this is a blessing to be here, looking at people that I grew up with."
You have two families – your biological family and the Traubers, who helped you get where you are right now. Do you talk to all of them? Did you bring them to see you play in Germany?
"Of course! The Traubers come out [to Germany] once a year at least and of course, I am in touch with my family. I keep in touch with both, but the Traubers were able to make it out. I hope that one day my Mom or my siblings can make it out, too."
You majored in communications at college. What's your take on how social media is changing media and the way people interact with each other?
"There are pros and cons. It is positive because the fans can interact with players and see different things about them, and the media can reach out to you. Sometimes it can be negative just by people taking things out of context on what you post. I got a lot of exposure from social media - and for me that was a positive."
Let's talk about Coach Trinchieri. How is it working for him? What makes him different from other coaches you have played for?
"He definitely pushes us. I had coaches that pushed you, but he definitely pushes us in a different way. It is different because he knows the game and always gets us prepared. He is a genius on the court! Just the way he sees the game and knows the game in and out, I never had that before. Coach is great at making adjustments and picking up on things really quick."
The reigning Euroleague champions, Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul, will visit you this week. How exciting is this challenge for a competitor and what kind of atmosphere can we expect in that game?
"I think it is going to be huge, definitely! Brad [Wanamaker[ and [Nicolo] Melli played here, so it is a huge game anyway, them coming home. You have to play against the best if you want to be the best. It is going to be huge and we know we have to be prepared because it is the EuroLeague champion. We will be working, preparing for this game and I am sure Freak City wants to see those guys, but they want to win as well. It is going to be a competitive game for both sides, for sure."