The Toronto Raptors knew they were getting a very raw basketball talent in Brazilian Bruno Caboclo. The teenager had only just barely started playing professionally in Brazil when they first spotted him and had virtually no exposure outside of his own Country. English was going to be as big a barrier for Caboclo initially as learning basketball skills and maybe bigger.
The young forward still gets a little nervous around the media when he has to speak English, but he is well ahead of where he was in July and this friendly kid will try hard when given a chance.
“My teachers come to my home and I have two hours per day, (but) only when I don’t have a game,” Caboclo said. “If I don’t have a game, I have an English class.”
These classes can be very informal as the emphasis is on getting a practical working vocabulary and allowing Caboclo to become comfortable with everyday type situations and conversations in English.
“It helps me a lot,” Caboclo said. “(My teacher) helps me a lot. Sometimes I am tired and we go shopping and I talk English. If I am walking on the street, I practice English and she says call me and I will walk with you. Two days ago, I went to the CN Tower. It is nice there. I like that.”
The real purpose of these English lessons is to help Caboclo communicate with his coaches and he has previously mentioned that reading English is a lot easier than speaking it. Caboclo says he is learning the basketball side pretty quickly.
“It is not hard,” Caboclo said. “I am learning quick, but to get very good, you need practice, practice, but I am learning quick.”
However, he still isn’t on the Black squad (starters) or White squad (backups) and is practicing on his own after the team has gone through their preparations.
“I shoot a lot and come (to the practice gym) two times per day and work a lot,” Caboclo said. “I don’t practice/I don’t work with the group. I only watch and I work after practice.”
Caboclo’s time will come – he hopes.
“(Coach) says keep going hard, your time (will) come.”
The Raptors have a relatively soft schedule coming with six games in a row against some truly terrible teams. Just maybe Head Coach Dwane Casey can find a few minutes for Caboclo in a blowout before Christmas?
The current combined record of the Raptors next 6 opponents is 35 wins and 101 loses. That should translate into 6 wins in a row for Toronto. Merry Christmas.
“I want an opportunity to improve my game,” Caboclo told Pro Bball Report. “I’ve worked a lot to get one chance, but I know it’s hard. We have 13 players, but I keep working.”
“For me personally it is way better to play against a typical center, a big guy who is in the paint wrestling because I do the same thing, for me (that) is much easier,” Valanciunas said. “It’s tough. It’s tough. I am not used to going (out to) the three-point line and cover stretch big guys who can really shoot the ball. I just don’t like that. I am not fast enough.”