Bruno Marotta still has "quite a bit" of learning to do when it comes to how the
game of basketball is played in the United States, according to first-year Clay boys coach Rob Belegrin.
Where Marotta comes from, the courts are the same size and the rim still measures 10 feet high, but there are subtle nuances the Brazilian exchange student still finds himself brushing up on in the U.S.
"Little things like hand checking and foul shooting violations, his release on the foul shot," Belegrin said. "He did that last Friday night. He entered the lane on the release instead of waiting for the ball to hit the rim. They play a more physical game (in Brazil), and they call that stuff here.
"Also, he's carrying the ball a little bit on his dribble. He gets his hand under the ball on his hesitation moves. He's looked better in practice dribbling the ball, as far as (not) palming it."
Marotta, a 6-4, 195-pound starting point guard for the Eagles, scored four points on Dec. 4 in a 52-49 win over Fremont Ross.
"He struggled a little bit," Belegrin said. "He had some silly turnovers as far as carrying the ball, but I expected that. He likes to talk to officials. He talks to them in English. He doesn't ever refer back to (his native) Portugese."
Belegrin, who compared Marotta's game to San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, said Marotta's style should be a good fit once Clay begins league play.
"He'll be all right in the City League because he's a physical player," the coach said. "He likes contact and I love that about him. He's a north-south guard. He gets to the hole and likes to slash."
Marotta, 17, who speaks fluent English, arrived in Oregon in August and will return to his hometown of Sao Paolo, Brazil, at the end of the school year.
Brazilian high schools do not have organized basketball teams, so players play for club teams. Marotta has played for Club Athletico Paulistano for six years.
"I played center my first year and then as a forward and then as a guard," Marotta said. "Here, I can play wherever Coach wants me to play. If he wants me to play point guard, that's OK with me.
"The game here is faster. They run more here, and in Brazil we stop to call plays and some organized attacks. The referees are very different here. The practices are the same, but we practice more here. We lift weights more here, too. In Brazil, we lift weights twice a week and here we lift weights every day."
Belegrin said, "He's played a lot of club ball in Brazil for a couple of top-notch teams that have won titles over there. He likes the ball in his hands and he's a really good screen-and-roll player. And, he's got a great sense of humor. He keeps the team pretty loose."
Marotta's older brother, Marcelo, 22, has also has spent time in the U.S. His father, Miguel, is a dentist and his mother, Rosely, is a doctor. Marcelo is a die-hard New York Yankees fan, while Bruno roots for the Red Sox. His favorite player is Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
"I love baseball," Bruno said. "That's my favorite sport. I don't like the Yankees. By the time of 2005 and Boston had won a title (in 2004), I said, 'that's a good team.' I was watching a Yankees game with my brother and I said, 'OK, I like the Red Rox.' "
Marotta said his first basketball game in a Clay uniform was "a lot different" from his experience in Brazil.
"It was good because we won," he said, "but it was a lot different from Brazil, the referees and the calls. My first game, I had some travels and things they don't call in Brazil. Here, they call it. We won, but for me it was a lot different. Sometimes when I dribble I put my hand under the ball. In Brazil, they don't say anything. In Brazil, we are allowed to talk to the refs. If you talk to them here, it's a technical."
Marotta said he wanted to spend a school year in the U.S. so that he could experience another culture away from his family.
"I wanted to get to know what you guys do here," he said. "In our country, you have to have a job and a career. Living here, you learn a way to speak English better. In Brazil, we learn English in school but it is not the same. You have to live here to know how you (Americans) speak."
Marotta, who plans to try out for Clay's baseball team in the spring (he is a third baseman), has become accustomed to eating a certain variety of foods in the States.
"I love cheeseburgers," he said, "and bacon. I have had some Mexican food here that we don't have in Brazil. Subway is good. We don't have that in Brazil."
Marotta admitted he does miss some of the comforts of home. He will go back to Brazil in June.
"I miss my bedroom and my friends, because it's different," Marotta said. "I went to the same school for 12 years. We don't change schools. I miss my school and my parents, definitely. I've only been here for three months, so I miss them - but not that much."