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Two International Eagles Represent Their Home Countries Outside the Nest

Jessica Piland/FGCU Athletics

FGCU’s basketball season is back and two student-athletes were able to gain international experience while representing their countries last summer.

The FGCU men’s basketball team is preparing for the upcoming season with a veteran guard who has acquired significant international experience.

Graduate student and guard Franco Miller Jr. is ready to go into this season after coming off of a successful run with the Bahamas national team this past summer.

Miller’s first time playing for the Bahamas national team was when he was 15. Eventually, he made his debut with the men’s national team two years ago in El Salvador where they won three games. He then played the following summer in the World Cup qualifiers.

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“Our team was okay but we hadn’t put together the right team yet,” Miller said.

Following the World Cup qualifiers, the Bahamas assembled a much better team for this past summer where Miller played alongside NBA players Buddy Hield, Eric Gordon and Deandre Ayton. 

Adding these pieces pushed the team to win two games against Argentina on their home court. It gives the Bahamas a chance to play in the Olympic qualifiers and potentially send their basketball team to the Olympics for the first time ever.

“The whole country was paying attention to the games. We have made it to the Olympics in track but in basketball have never made that big leap. I think this coming summer will be a big test for us to see if we can finally make the Olympics,” Miller said.

Following his time with the Bahamas national team this past summer, Miller turned his attention to FGCU’s upcoming season where he is looking to make a serious impact and help the team take it to the next level.

“Franco has gained so much confidence playing with Buddy, Gordon and Deandre Ayton and the fact they were able to beat Argentina not once but twice on their home court,” FGCU Men’s Basketball Coach, Patrick Chambers, said. “I think he’s coming back here with that level of confidence and determination. He knows that we have fallen short over the last few years and he has as well. So he is bringing that mentality to the locker room, to the weightroom, to practice. There is just a different edge to him, different chip to him and different leadership to him because he sees what works and sees how they got it done in Argentina.”

Jessica Piland/FGCU Athletics

The FGCU women’s basketball season is here and the Eagles are looking to repeat last season’s streak after the team went 33-4, won the ASUN Women’s Basketball Tournament championship, beat Washington State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and finished the season ranked in the top 25.

New additions will need to have an impact in games if FGCU wants to match or improve upon last season’s results. One of these new additions is junior Maca Retamales. A transfer from Florida SouthWestern State College (FSW), Retamales decided to stay in the area when making her choice of where to continue playing college basketball in a place she was already familiar with and ready to grow in all aspects of her life.

“When I was getting the news about getting a scholarship here at FGCU, at first, I didn’t know if I was about to be here,” Retamales said. “Because in basketball, there’s a lot of offers and a lot of schools interested. Sometimes you gotta see what’s better for you, and I feel like when I came here on a visit, it was like the best thing for me to do to grow my game and as a person and everything, and it was pretty close to FSW.”

Over this past summer, Retamales had the opportunity to represent her country, Chile, on their national team in an international 3-on-3 tournament. The experience meant a lot to her and it was a unique transition period in between playing at FSW and now playing at FGCU.

“You got the opportunity to represent your country and then play with your team,” Retamales said. “It was really fun.”

The structure of the 3-on-3 tournament was that there was a different final matchup over six days of the tournament. Chile made it to the final in half of those days, which was a meaningful accomplishment for Retamales and her team over the course of the tournament.

“Each day, you’re going to have two different finalists. And in our case, we went three times to the final, which was really good for us, because it was just six days,” Retamales said. “So every day you compete against different teams. In each group, there’s a top team, which was United States, and in the other group, it was us. So we will never play them until we get to the final.”

Retamales averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game last season at FSW and was named an Honorable Mention NJCAA All-American as well. She has a lot of goals, starting this year and in the future, at FGCU and beyond.

“What I want to do is just represent my country, the people that I love, my family and friends, represent the name of FSW and FGCU the best that I can. And hopefully play overseas in the future,” Retamales said. 

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About the Contributor
James Curtis
James Curtis, Eagle News Sports Editor
James Curtis is a senior majoring in journalism and minoring in global studies. He is from Tampa, FL, and has known he wanted to be a journalist since taking a journalism class in seventh grade. He has been involved in sports for his whole life, including swimming competitively all the way through high school. His goal now is to be a sports journalist. When not covering sports games or writing stories, he's usually spending his free time with his friends or watching YouTube.

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