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The Cagli Media Project
Institute for Education
in International Media
Andrew Ciofalo, Director

Story by Brett Kahn

Soccer might be the main sport in Cagli, Italy, but it’s not the only one. Argentinian basketball talent Oscar Casabianca knows this for a fact.

Casabianca plays for the Cagli Highlanders, who are a semi-professional, Division C2 team. The team was formed in 1977 and has been developing international talent ever since. The Highlanders play 30 regular season games. Their home games are played in New Cagli at the Palestra Paniche Pieretti.

At the end of the season, if the Highlanders are one of the top eight teams in the Marche region, they move on to the playoffs. The Highlanders have done well in recent years, making it to the semi-finals this year and the finals last year. However, this spirited small-town team has yet to win a league championship.

Casabiana, as a child, wanted to follow in the footsteps of his two older brothers. He began playing soccer at a young age, but quickly realized that it wasn’t going to take him anywhere. “I played goalkeeper when I was younger but didn’t get a lot of playing time,” says Casabianca.

This rising talent comes from a basketball family with his two older brothers both playing for some of the same teams in Argentina that he played for. Even though both his brothers ended up going back to school instead of pursuing basketball professionally, Casabianca credits them for his continued effort and motivation for the game.

The 6’7” standout started playing in Italy a few years ago in Piemonde. The Highlanders became very aware of Casabianca’s talent and offered him a starting position on the team with a pay incentive.

Casabianca has now started at forward for the Highlanders for two years and hopes to start his third season when the team resumes play in September. He really has enjoyed Cagli saying, “I made friends with the people and fell in love with the town.”

The Highlanders have ten players, most of whom are from the city of Pesaro. Although he is the only player on the team from Argentina, he proved his international status by leading the team in scoring this season, averaging 16 points per game. His ability to balance his game with successful outside and inside play allowed him to be a leader on the court. When asked about his successful career in the sport thus far, Casabianca explains that he has played basketball since he was six years old and has continued down the path of hard work and determination and, eventually, has become professional.

Casabianca comes from the town of Sante Fe, Argentina. This town has produced such talents as Chicago Bulls’ forward Andres Nocioni and Detroit Pistons’ guard Carlos Delfino, who have both established themselves as reputable players in the NBA. Casabianca considers them great motivators for his success. “Carlos (Delfino) was one of my favorite coaches in Argentina,” Casabianca says. Casabianca played with Nocioni when they were young. “I really like and respect the way he plays,” Casabianca says about the Bulls’ forward. Casabianca also had another childhood basketball idol, “Michael Jordan,” he says, “he was phenomenal.”

Casabianca knows, however, that the NBA isn’t a realistic goal for most European players trying to make it big. “Everyone wants to play in the NBA, but it is a whole different world for players in Europe.”

Although skill level between the NBA and Europe is significantly different, it is not the only major difference. While NBA players are making upwards of $1 million per year, players like Casabianca are just trying to stay afloat. Although he manages to make a living playing the game that he loves, he would like to eventually go back to school to pursue a career in biology, in which he has already received a degree.

As Casabianca continues to embark on this difficult journey to become the best he can be, one might ask is it all really worth a few lousy euro per week? Casabianca’s response? “I love it. It’s the kind of life I enjoy.

Video by Alex Cirillo
Photos by Julia Gaspary
Web Design by Cindy Dew