Tulane’s Sammis Reyes reflects on Chilean National Basketball team experience

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Sammis Reyes

NEW ORLEANS – Tulane men’s basketball junior forward Sammis Reyes is one of six players on the Green Wave’s 2017-18 roster born outside of the United States or heavily influenced by another country during his upbringing.

Reyes made the 19-hour trip to his home country, before joining the Chilean National Team in September 11-21 for training camp in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifying.

“It was great to play for my home country and it’s so different,” Reyes said. “Being called to play for my nation’s team that is trying to qualify for the China Olympics in 2019 is a big honor.”

The team spent three days in Chile, practicing twice a day, before spending the final week-plus in Rio de Janeiro. Twenty players competed, vying for spots on the roster, as the team posted a 3-2 record. Reyes saw his numbers improve each game, scoring 8 points the first time out, followed by 6-point, 12-point and 16-point performances.

“Basketball is very different in Chile,” Reyes said. “It’s a little bit slower, but it takes more skill. The guys are really smart and know how to take advantage and make the extra play. I learned how to make my teammates better and getting them open. The coaches really made an emphasis of playing for the guy next to you and being ready when your name is called.”

Reyes was selected to move forward with the team, which is now pooled with Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil for the next stage of competition, as the team tries to qualify for the 2019 FIBA World Cup. He credits the advice of the veteran players on the team for his success.

“They brought me into the group and made me feel like one of them,” Reyes said. “Some of them have been playing for 10 years, so I was one of the youngest guys there.”

Born in Santiago, Chile, Reyes is the only Tulane player from South America, where basketball was not his first sport of interest. He was a soccer player who continued to grow – to a height of six feet and seven inches tall – and decided to put his hands on a basketball.

“When I grew up, I played both (soccer and basketball),” Reyes said. “Whenever we had a break at school, we played soccer. My parents both played multiple sports, but primarily basketball. They engrained that in me when I was young and, as I grew, it became a real opportunity.”

Reyes arrived in the U.S., as a 14-year-old freshman in high school. He remembers when he was first presented with the possibility of playing at the collegiate level.

“I was playing for the U-15 Chilean National Team and we went to tournament in Austin, Texas where I first got noticed,” Reyes said. “I was told I could earn a scholarship and financial aid. A few months later, my family and I moved to Miami and the journey began.”

Reyes played important minutes off the bench for the Green Wave as a sophomore transfer in 2016-17 and hopes to provide a similar boost to the improved roster this year. In doing so, he is one of three native Chileans playing NCAA Division I basketball this year, along with Felipe Haase (South Carolina) and Geno Luzcando (Idaho State).

“There are only a few of us,” Reyes said. “When I go back home, a lot of people know who I am and what I’m doing as a basketball player.”

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