Home away from home, Pasquini adjusts to East Texas living

The bounce of the ball, the squeak of sneakers on the court, it sounds the same across the planet.

It is a comforting sound for one Longview Lobo.

"I feel at home now," Jacopo Pasquini said with a smile.

For 17-year-old Jacopo, home is a town named Montecarlo in Italy, some 5,300 miles away. He came to Longview as a student with the foreign exchange program.

"I didn't know anybody here," he said of coming to Longview. "No one knew me."

Jacopo tried to adjust to life as a Longview teenager.

"It's a big school, it's very diverse," he said.

His second day at school, Jacopo met his Lobo teammates and differences of culture and language vanished.

"What our players have done is really a good job of taking him in," Coach Hosea Lee said. "Just making sure he knows where his classes are and  making sure in between classes to say hello. Just making sure he gets everything he needs."

"Socially, I think they've accepted him," junior varsity coach Andrew Harbison said. "They are coming together and including him and inviting him to things. They joke around with each other."

"The first friend I made and my best friend here so far, I met on the floor," Jacopo explained.

Jacopo adjusted to the longer American school day with basketball practice and games. He is a straight ''A'' student.

Joseph Fillipazzo decided to host Jacopo after developing a friendship with a former exchange student from Germany. Joseph also worked over the summer with NBA veteran David Wesley for an NBA Cares camp in Germany and plans another in Italy.

"It was no adjustment at all for us," Joseph said of having the teenager live with his family. "He does his chores, he' very outgoing. I think he's adjusted well to East Texas. I've taught him some Texas slang. I've taught him ''fixin' to'' and ''ya'll'' and we have a good time with that."

His new team is still trying to adjust to one part of life with Jacopo. "I'm still trying to learn how to say his name so that's why we just call him 'Jac,''' Coach Lee laughed.

Due to UIL rules, Jacopo suits up for the junior varsity team. His teammates and coaches all said he is a great player and has a excellent grasp of basketball's fundamentals.

In July, Jacopo will return home to Italy.

"I feel like a Lobo," he laughed. "I will have to get used to living in Italy again."

"We'll definitely miss him," Joseph said, "but the great thing is these relationships will last forever."