One of the biggest goals for the Toronto Raptors for summer league is getting rookie Bruno Caboclo familiar with the NBA game. In an 88-57 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, Caboclo not only got another dose of experience, but also a solid serving of frustration as well. With the entire team struggling (Toronto finished the game shooting 30 per cent from the floor while allowing Dallas to shoot better than 50 per cent), Caboclo tried his best to help bring the Raptors back, but grew frustrated by the team’s inability to trim the deficit. Making three of his nine attempts from beyond the arc, Caboclo finished 3-for-10 from the floor and had five personal fouls and seven turnovers in a game he won’t soon forget.
After receiving his first posterization courtesy of C.J. Fair, Caboclo also was assessed his first technical foul. Heading to the bench after picking up the tech, he was visibly emotional As his teammates gave words of encouragement from the sideline, Caboclo covered his face with a towel and let his frustration out.
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Raptors summer league coach Jesse Mermuys was pleased with the passion and heart shown by the 20th pick in this year’s draft. Despite the rough game, Caboclo kept fighting when he was on the floor and wasn’t ready to give up on the game despite the huge Dallas lead.
“We’ve got to remember Bruno is 18 years old,” Mermuys said. “He is a kid who does not speak English, this is his first experience. I can’t tell you guys how proud that I am of that kid. I couldn’t take him off the court, I probably played him too many minutes because he was the only guy that I felt that was really fighting and really scrapping to the point where he took some bad shots just because he was trying to put it all on his own shoulders to try and get us back in the game. So I’m super proud of him.”
“I’m super pleased that he was put in this position, the fight that he showed and that he showed an emotion and you could tell how much he cared and how much he felt bad that they were losing like that. And so from that standpoint, super happy about Bruno. We have a special kid, a special player. You find out what a kid’s like and what a player’s like in those type of situations, you really find out who they are. And we have a great kid and a great competitor. And so from that standpoint today was a big success.”
With the game already well out of reach, Mermuys didn’t bring Caboclo back into the game, but the afternoon wasn’t an entire loss for the rookie and his team. Lucas Nogueira, who comforted Caboclo on the bench, explained why the dunk and technical could be overwhelming for a player getting his first taste of the NBA game.
“In Brazil, nobody dunk on him there, because he is big and he’s athletic,” Nogueira said. “So he can’t believe that dunk. And he’s 18 years old, it’s normal he is sad. Right now, when I go back to the hotel, I will try to talk to him and say, ‘Bruno, never give up, come on man, NBA is worse than summer league.’ He’s out of luck because he plays on same team as Terrence Ross and DeMar DeRozan, you’re out of luck, be careful in practice, everyone will dunk on you. It’s normal, it’s the NBA.”
Buycks: “He’s going to be a warrior”
Dwight Buycks didn’t dress for the game against the Mavericks, but he was one of the first players to reach out to Caboclo when he came to the bench after receiving the technical foul.
Spending a season in France before coming to the Raptors last season, Buycks understands what it feels like to be thrust into a new situation while knowing that all eyes are on you.
“This is definitely new to him,” Buycks said. “It’s NBA Summer League. Everybody is excited to watch him, to see him play. It’s something new for him. He’s going to keep learning. He knows he’s fine and everybody is here for him. This is nothing big. He’ll be real good, real soon.”
Buycks agreed with Mermuys’ assessment of Caboclo’s reaction to the frustrating afternoon and considered the level of caring to be a huge positive for the future.
“It just shows that he’s fighter and a warrior already,” Buycks said. “He didn’t like shots he missed that he normally makes and you could see it. Any competitor, they get down on themselves when they miss shots they know they can make. That’s a great sign. He’s going to be a warrior.”
After agent and translator Eduardo Resende returned to Brazil early Monday morning, teammates Nogueira and Scott Machado will continue to help Caboclo when translation is needed. Spending time with the rookie during meals and downtime, Nogueira was confident the loss and the technical would be another step forward in Caboclo’s NBA education.
“He’s a very good guy, humble, amazing guy with great potential,” Nogueira said. “I think Bruno, he has a good head and I think that’s going to help him to grow up, right now I will try to talk to him at the hotel. I know he is young, but a great guy.
“I think that play will just try to help him in the future. He is never giving up.”