"Oh, yeah. I hear everything," a smiling Ahmad Jr. said Wednesday night, following a Public A game at Ben Franklin. "He tells me how good his team was and how they would have beaten our team from last year. He likes to say, always, 'We played bully ball back then. Now they play girly ball.' That's his favorite line.
"I always tell him, 'You can't check me.' He says, 'I'd only have to be physical.' "
Gilbert is a 6-6, 170-pound sophomore swingman for Constitution, which last year stormed to the Pub's overall title, then added a Class A state championship.
Then, the top six players received diplomas and the outcome of this current season was left to Gilbert and a whole bunch of underclassmen.
How's it going? Medium to good. Nothing close to great.
But with Gilbert, a lefty, contributing 13 points, 15 rebounds, two assists and three steals, ConHigh, as it likes to call itself, toughed out a 52-47 win over Delaware Valley Charter.
Dad, who played a year of junior-college ball at Mount Aloysius, near Altoona, was among the spectators. He even behaved.
"Oh, he does likes to talk to me during the game," Ahmad said, laughing. "At first I didn't like it, but now I'm getting used to it. It's nothing bad. He's just trying to help. But if I have stuff from coach Rob [Moore] and the assistants coming into my one ear from the bench, I can't have stuff from my dad coming in the other ear. He understands. "He's always on me. Even at home. 'Do the dishes' . . . 'Clean your room.' "
Back in the day, after those chores, son would say to dad, "Let's play some one-on-one."
"I used to beat him sometimes," the son said. "He doesn't have good knees anymore, so we had to stop that. Now we play P-I-G. He can't beat me . . . Well, sometimes he can. He tries all these crazy shots, like puttin' it over the backboard."
Gilbert has interesting possibilities. Occasional knee pain would seem to indicate he's still growing. Though he still shows gangly tendencies, he can also look very fluid. His best moment in this one was a feathery jump shot off a quick, hand-to-hand dribble that almost broke the defender's ankles.
Of his 15 rebounds, he said, "I don't keep track of my stats, but I think I'm averaging a double-double. I also play defense. I do a lot for my team."
He then mentioned all other members of the Generals' no-seniors rotation, from insiders Raheem Liggins and Chad Andrews to guards Akeem King, Kimar Williams, Lincoln Kpokuyou and Haneef Vaughn. He even took care of two more guards, Floyd Preito and Tymir Watson, who are currently sidelined.
"We have a good group of young guys and we're all going to come back next year," Gilbert said. "We know we have a bright future and we're still working hard to make the best of this season."
Liggins (14) and Williams (11) also reached double figures in points. Vaughn had seven rebounds, Williams dealt six assists and Kopkuyou made five steals.
For Del-Val, which dropped the last quarter, 19-10, only Hassan Young (17) scored in double digits. Jahmir Taylor claimed 10 rebounds. The Warriors missed four treys in the final minute after Liggins' layup, on a nice feed from Williams, made it 49-46.
Gilbert, who lives on Sharswood Street, near 54th and Media, figures he gets some of his height from his mom, Tanya, who could be as tall as 5-9.
"I like that I'm tall," Ahmad said. "But sometimes I wish my body would catch up to my height. I just have to be patient and keep working hard. I'm excited about my future."
He's also, as he put it nicely, "happy to be a part of my dad's past."