Out West, Neto Making Impact

by Lauren Rosen

There's a couple thousand miles between Salt Lake City and Philadelphia. 

The move was one Raul Neto, who spent the last four seasons with the Utah Jazz, made this summer, but it's far from his biggest.

For the Belo Horizonte, Brazil native, moving through life with basketball as the driver is in his blood. Neto's father, Raul Togni Filho, played professionally too.

His career meant Neto's family had to be nimble. 

“It was hard for me - moving," Neto said recently of his childhood. "Every two, three years, I was going to be in a different city.

“For a kid, it’s tough, because when you start making friends at school, you have to go to another school. You have to go to another city and make new friends."

Fast forward 20 years, and Neto is furthering the family business.

“He [played] kind of like me,” Neto said of his dad. “He always gave 100 percent, he was tough, he was a good defender, he could shoot the ball, but he was always looking for the best play. Like we say here, good to great. He was always looking for the great shot.”

Quite the role model, indeed.

“He’s always emotional about me playing in the NBA," Neto said, "following his steps, and going way farther than he went."

In Brazil, Neto played his first professional game at 16 years old, sometimes facing competition double his age.

“As soon as you’re good enough to play with the pros, we turn pro,” Neto said.

It wasn’t until a few years later that Neto made an impression on a future NBA head coach - specifically, the guy who ultimately would become his head coach. 

Quin Snyder happened to be watching an international match-up between Brazil and Team USA, and took notice of Neto's ability to guard Derrick Rose, when Rose was in his prime. 

“That’s when he started liking my game and looking at me as a player,” said Neto, who played under Snyder in Utah the last four seasons.

As it would turn out, Neto was chosen 47th overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2013 NBA Draft, then was quickly dealt to the Jazz.

“You don’t need 30 teams to like you — you need one team or two teams to like you, to give you opportunity,” Neto said. “That happened with the Utah Jazz.”

That was fine by Neto. His father coincidentally had always loved John Stockton.

“I think it was destiny,” Neto said. “It was supposed to be.”

Listen to an interview with Raul Neto on the latest episode of The BroadCast. 

Neto didn't make the jump to the NBA for two more years, his debut with Utah coming 2015, Snyder's second campaign as head coach. From there, Neto became a steady contributor for the Jazz. 

On the Sixers’ current four-game West Coast trip, Neto had the chance to return to his old turf, in the city where he got his first big break.  In Wednesday's game at Vivint Smart Home Arena, he netted 11 points. It was the latest outings in a string of solid performances for the Brazilian.

“You want to be part of a team that is winning. I want to be out there playing, I want to be competing. That’s just me,” Neto said.

In the 76ers, Neto believes he's found his match, and aims to keep building on what has been a productive week.

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