FOXBOROUGH -- When Fab Melo begins his rookie season he will become the tenth Brazilian-born athlete to play in the NBA. As a member of the Boston Celtics, he will also be the second professional athlete in New England from his native country.
Like Melo, New England Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber was born in Brazil. Although he moved to the United States at an earlier age than the seven-footer, Feilhaber still has ties to his culture. The 27 year old from Rio de Janeiro offered insight into what Melo, 22, can expect as a Brazilian athlete playing in Boston.
"I'm sure he's learned his way a little bit by playing in the U.S. for a while (Melo attended Syracuse University), but Americans like hard-nosed athletes that work hard," Feilhaber said. "Typically in Brazil a lot of things that are really looked for are technical ability and skill, and you can get away with being really skillful and potentially not working hard. Here, it's not so much like that. You really have to commit full go, and I'm sure he's learned that by now if he's made it to the NBA and done so well in the NCAA. Work hard, keep your nose down, and don't let anything really get to you. Just keep going."
Melo played soccer until in his teenage years before switching to basketball. He moved from his hometown of Juiz de Fora to attend high school in Weston, Florida at the age of 17. His favorite sports organization, though, is still the Brazilian soccer club Flamengo. Feilhaber understands the passion of fans in Brazil and, after attending several Celtics games over the years, believes Melo will enjoy playing in the TD Garden.
"Being a soccer player, I'm probably biased in the sense that there are no fans like soccer fans," Feilhaber said. "In Brazil, everybody lives soccer. That's their religion, really. But Boston Celtics fans are unbelievable. They pack the arena every night so he'll get used to that pretty quickly. It's an awesome environment there."