HARRISBURG -- When is traveling a good thing in basketball?
How about when your best ball-handler comes all the way from Brazil to play for your program?
"His skills," said Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) head coach Randy Tobias, "are some of the best I've seen in a long time."
Pedro Sperb has shown he can do it all: start the fast break; find the open man; and knock-down shots.
Sperb is finally feeling right at home after traveling almost 5000 miles to play for and attend HACC. "Everybody was going to some college in my country and I just decided to something different, you know?" said Sperb, who is from Santa Cruz do Sul, Brazil.
Players with Sperb's skills -- from so far away -- just don't walk through a gym door unannounced.
Sperb had a connection to the college: his cousin, Joao Dreyer-Filho, is an assistant coach at HACC.
"(When it comes to the) language barrier, (Pedro) got through that very quickly," said Dreyer-Filho.
Dreyer-Filho suggested to Tobias that he take a chance on a player who knew basketball, but not English. "(Pedro's adjustment) was fun to watch because it reminds me of myself when I was first here," he added.
"I can say from the beginning, I didn't know much English before I came here," said Sperb, who arrived at HACC last January.
Sperb has learned more than just the language.
He quickly discovered that our brand of basketball is faster and more physical than what he was used to in Brazil. Still, Sperb is averaging 12.0 points and 4.4 assists per game for the Hawks (1-5).
"He's a lot more fluent in his English now; he has learned the game of basketball, American-style," said Mike McRae, a freshman from Harrisburg High School. "We're very happy and grateful that he's here."
The transition hasn't been easy -- but Sperb's been handling it all.
He'd like to continue playing basketball in college -- Tobias believes he could play in Division II or III after graduating from HACC -- and knows that speaking both Portuguese and English will only help him in the business world when he returns home.
Traveling in basketball can be a good thing -- when you're given an opportunity like this.
"I want to play basketball while I study, so I think this is the best place to do that."