Spain has a rich history with Brazilian players coming over early in their careers and having major success. And that is a major reason why Pedro Barros landed in España and is starring with U18 Divina Seguros Joventut Badalona at the first Euroleague Basketball ADIDAS NEXT GENERATION TOURNAMENT qualifying event.
Barros is flashing his excellent all-around game for Joventut, which won Group B of the ANGT Torneig de Bàsquet Junior Ciutat de L'Hospitalet with a 3-0 record. Barros has played a major role in that success, averaging 11.7 points, 4.3 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals a game for a PIR of 18.3 - second best in the tournament.
All that despite still being a year younger than the rest of the competition as the 2000-born guard doesn't turn 17 years until late in August.
And this is actually Barros' second ANGT as he collected 9.5 points, 1.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.8 steals at ANGT L'Hospitalet in January 2016.
"That was a good experience. Now I am adjusted to the level of the tournament - more than last year. I wasn't acclimated. I was two years younger and my physique wasn't the best. I feel better now," Barros said.
"I feel more comfortable playing. I feel more comfortable with my team, too. I am more adapted to the team. I think it's a big difference from the first to the second year."
This is Barros's third season with Joventut. Spain's long tradition of developing young players, including many Brazilians, was the reason the Vitoria, Brazil native landed in Badalona. Barros came to Spain in 2013 for a visit and played in a tournament and then returned for good in September 2014.
"I came here because Spain is one of the best places for younger talent. And Joventut is one of the best here, too," said Barros, who was accompanied by his father for the first three months as a 14-year-old when he arrived.
"In the beginning it was very difficult. I was younger and felt the difficulties - with the language, the culture, the school, the game, the style. The basketball is a lot different than the Americas style. But I believe difficulties make you better," Barros said.
Barros said he started playing basketball at eight years of age "in a little club in Vitoria, just chilling."
He said he grew up watching Brazilian star and former EuroLeague champion Anderson Varejao, who arrived in Spain to play for Barcelona when Barros was just 2 years old in 2002.
"Anderson Varejao is my idol. He's from my city too and the same club. So he's my idol."
Barros knew if he worked hard he could have a chance for something great in Spain. It has worked after all for fellow Brazilians Varejao, Marcelinho Huertas, who started his European career with Joventut in 2004, Tiago Splitter, Lucas Nogueira, Raul Neto, Augusto Lima and 2016 ANGT L'Hospitalet MVP Felipe dos Anjos of Real Madrid.
Barros returned to South America the summer following his first season in Spain to play for the Brazilian national team at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship 2015 in Argentina. Despite being a year younger than the competition there, Barros collected 6.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.4 steals a game.
"When I went there I felt the difference that I had played the Americas style and the Spanish style. I was better at reading the game than I was before because they work on that a lot in Spain," said Barros, who only had one week of practice with the Brazilian team before the tournament.
Barros' big game came against Mexico in the 5-8 classification as he collected 16 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks. He ended up helping Brazil to fifth place in that tournament.
Barros took that added confidence of playing on an international national team level into his second season with Joventut and had a very strong ANGT L'Hospitalet campaign last January. He collected 11 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals against U18 Real Madrid and his compatriot Felipe dos Anjos. And Barros added 12 points and 9 rebounds in the fifth place game.
With the national team experience and one year of the ANGT under his belt, Barros thinks his level is closer to that of the other players in the L'Hospitalet tournament.
"I improved my game and I think I can compete with my physicalness and skills. From last year to this year my level has grown up a lot. I'm closer to the other guys now," he said.
Barros's loud game has him well on his way to becoming another Brazilian in Spain for youngsters back home to take as a role model.