Gabriel Fuels Far Rockaway Seahorses’ Fast Start
Derrick Gabriel is the new lead point guard for the Far Rockaway Seahorses but the point guard position isn’t new. Growing up with members of his extended family family who played basketball in high school and college, Gabriel gained valuable experience from his family.
After transferring from St. John’s Prep due to tuition problems, Gabriel is a senior at Far Rockaway. Gabriel competed for playing time while playing at St. John’s Prep and believes that he came to Far Rockaway to get the opportunity to show his skills.
Far Rockaway was a playoff team last season but graduated five seniors and all of them were starters. Graduating in that class was also leading scorer Richard Forbes, whose 32 points a game fueled the Seahorses. Coming into a new situation and playing with four new starters and a new head coach in Anthony Miele, the passing and shooting ability of Gabriel, the scoring from starters Dexter Geohagan, Chris Howard, Jeremy Pruitt and rebounding from Ricardo Remy has resulted in a winning team.
The Seahorses head to the school break with a 12-4 record overall and 7-1 in the Queens 1-B Conference. With Far Rockaway battling for a conference title, Gabriel, averaging 26 points and 13 assists a game, believes that his team can compete for a title because their style of game is the most effective to win.
"We’ve been playing the same game that we’ve been doing all year. We push the ball up. An up-tempo game. We’re not a slow team. We got quickness. We want to win and go far in the playoffs".
"Derrick is a good kid. A bright kid who works hard", says Miele. He can penetrate
Gabriel is a vocal leader on the floor and gets that support to lead the team from Miele, who took over the head-coaching job after previously coaching the junior varsity basketball and football teams. "He surprised me because a lot of people doubted him since he’s a football coach. But he knows the game and on the defensive end, he brings that football intensity. That helps us win games too. In a tight game, he brings us that football intensity. We need that. I like that."
Growing up near MS 215 in Far Rockaway, Derrick Gabriel is very familiar with his teammates on the floor. One of the advantages in their early start is that they all know each other’s ability on the court. "We grew up together so it’s cool. We were playing against each other and with each other since elementary school. All of these guys on this team I played with".
Gabriel is very confident in his abilities to play but also receives extra motivation when he hears from people who say he doesn’t have the skills to play an all-around game. Gabriel does not want to hog the ball. Though he can score, Gabriel wants to get his teammates involved in the game and has proven it by being in the top 5 in the PSAL in assists. Derrick says that during the December 18th win over Beach Channel, he overheard Dolphins head coach Jim Malone making remarks from the bench saying that Far Rockaway was only running the same play to score. Gabriel also said that Malone believed that Gabriel carried the team to the win. Gabriel said that is not the case. "He was saying it was just me. It’s not just me. Dexter can drop 20, Chris Howard can drop 20 and Jeremy Pruitt can drop 20. There are players on this team that can score. Once I give them the ball in the right position, they can score. They’re going to finish".
Gabriel is ready for the chance to prove his skills to the teams in Queens but to the rest of the city. "The city is going to know because when I was at St. John’s Prep, they (Far Rock) knew what I can do but when I came to Far Rock, they wanted to see what I can do and that was a challenge to me. That was my personal challenge to show what I can really do and that I can play".
He also follows the other basketball players such as Sebastian Telfair, the Lincoln High School point guard who is regarded by many media outlets as the best player in New York City. Telfair has already risen to prominence with Lincoln, winning the city championship the last 2 seasons and played on ESPN in a primetime game. Gabriel follows the news of Telfair and other prominent city players because it pushes him to refine his game. "I follow them of course. That’s motivation too watching him play because what he can do makes me go on the court and work harder".