Entering the NBA, San Antonio Spurs' Tiago Splitter had lots of expectations to produce immediately, however, that did not happen.
It took a few season to get things going but this season Splitter has been putting up solid numbers and has vastly improved defensively and offensively. He has been running the pick-and-roll to near perfection and he is a critical cog in the Spurs' system but he might have not improved without the help and tutelage of his teammates Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan.
In an interview with Brazilian site Folha de S. Paulo, Tiago credits Ginobili and Duncan in helping him during his transition to the NBA and setting the example for him to follow.
"Ginobili helped me to adapt to the team. Ease I have to play with it. A guy who has a very good vision of the game," he said.
And there's Duncan who shares the paint with Splitter during battles on the court.
"From the time of the lockout [bosses' strike in 2011] we have been training together. During the holidays too. A guy who sets the example."
Splitter, along with many other players join San Antonio, have and continue to benefit from the vast basketball knowledge of not only Ginobili and Duncan. Tony Parker has helped Cory Joseph and Duncan has even helped other bigs in the NBA such as Roy Hibbert of the Pacers.
But as for his first appearance in the NBA Finals, Splitter makes no bones about it, he is looking to make some history in San Antonio and in his home country of Brazil.
"I want to be a person identified within the city of San Antonio," he said. On the other hand, it puts the chance to make history by winning the NBA title as a personal goal.
"I want to be happy with myself and get that done, but not because I want to be the first Brazilian to win the title. Guess it somewhat individualistic," he said.
Splitter will be a free agent after this season and will command a nice pay day. In the regular season, he averaged 10.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, and shot 56% from the field. His numbers have jumped but now it will be a question of just how much he want or if another team throws him a contract too good to pass up and if San Antonio cannot match it.