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Chagas: Finding her wings, crazy for EuroLeague Women, her sister choosing Uruguay
BUENOS AIRES (Argentina) – If women’s basketball wants another reason to be optimistic about attracting new fans, here are two words that should be music to the ears – Florencia Chagas.
The teenager from Argentina is a wonderful fusion of talent, entertainment and passion. Elements which are currently combining to put her on a path towards becoming a potential poster girl for women’s ball during the next decade and beyond.
FINDING HER WINGS
For those who did not already know about the incredible potential of Chagas during her formative basketball years, it may have come as a surprise when she was catapulted into the limelight last season.
But for the player herself, it was the culmination of a journey that started while she was a small kid back home. A long time before she found herself suiting up for Italian giants Famila Schio, alongside some serious heavyweights of the global game, such as Sandrine Gruda and Allie Quigley while preparing for a EuroLeague Women debut.
“For me, that was amazing as I have worked hard and continue to work hard to get to this level,” enthused Chagas.
“Sitting in that locker room at my age is not something that just fell into my lap. I trained every summer with my father, went to campus, all of these have got me to where I am now.
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Momentos que te llenan el corazón, mi debut... tener la posibilidad de pisar esa cancha contra UMMC Ekaterinburg es algo inexplicable. Todo esto recién empieza, yo creo que este es el camino. Gracias a mi familia por bancarme en todas. @tonellovaleria no puedo estar más agradecida de tenerte conmigo en estos momentos. Y gracias a @familaschio por la oportunidad.
“All my life, since I was a young girl, I had the biggest dreams and set myself goals. The first was to play for the national team which I had the opportunity to do when I was just 13 years old, two years younger than my teammates.
“I think this was when I found my wings and started to fly!
“A lot of that was down to my family who always supported me, but also thanks to the Argentinian coaches who gave me the opportunity and taught me at such a young age about ‘professionalism’ that every player who wants to wear blue and white needs to have.”
She continued “Now I am sat in the locker room in Schio and next year it will be Serie A and EuroLeague Women. I honestly don’t know where to start, it was one of my dreams to be able to play professionally in Europe. I had to play at a lower level for 2 years to learn how to play like an Italian, but it was all worth it because I know the best is yet to come.”
HAILING THE HELP OF QUIGLEY
Even merely contemplating the potential of Chagas can set the pulse racing. She hasn't taken long to show glimpses of what fans will be able to enjoy on a more regular basis.
An improvement is assured, since she has been learning from one of the best at Schio, while also being bitten by the EuroLeague Women bug at the same time.
She said “Being at Schio has helped me to mature as a person, because I had to emigrate at such a young age, adapt to being away from my family and everything I was used to - from learning a new language and living a new way of life.
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“At the same time, it helped me with the game because I had to show character, adapt to my new teams way of playing and working with a new coach, which in turn, helped me grow as a player - both individually and in the team.
“Since coming into the European arena, I am crazy about Euroleague Women,” added Chagas.
“I also watch a lot of WNBA, I just love basketball. I was also able to play with Allie Quigley and it was so amazing. Without a doubt, she is my favourite player and I hope to one day play with the same ability and ease on the court.”
MINSK MEMORIES AND TIME FOR THAILAND
If you missed Chagas and her entertaining cameos in EuroLeague Women, or her Youth Olympic Games outings, you can also take some time to check out her performances last year at the FIBA U17 Women’s Basketball World Cup in Minsk. She put up her name in lights with a memorable and history-making 17 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists against Spain.
She recalled: “I have really positive memories from this tournament as it was my first FIBA U17 Women’s Basketball World Cup when representing my country where we could play equally alongside the best in the world.
“Despite the overall results, I think we played really well and I was really proud of my triple-double. It was really nice experiencing the culture of other countries and getting to share it with my teammates who I have been with since U14."
The performances of Chagas in Belarus last year witnessed her form a formidable one-two punch with Sofia Acevedo. And, while younger than some of their team-mates and many of their opponents in Bangkok, they will be expected to light it up in the Thai capital
Navegando entre los partidos del Mundial Femenino U17 del año pasado, me encontré con esta hermosa asistencia de Flor Chagas (@flopychagas) para el triple de Sofía Acevedo (@SofiAcevedo_)— Basquet Argentina (@BasketArgentina) May 3, 2019
¿Falta mucho para el Mundial U19 de Julio? pic.twitter.com/BxB9Pb5YmA
“I am hoping for a good FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup and great performances by the whole team,” she declared.
“Sofi and I only contribute what the team needs to succeed. We hope to give it our best shot and compete as equals with the other teams.
“We know there are no easy games at a World Cup, but I think we are prepared for anything!”
BWB AND THE GLOBAL CAMP
Se está desarrollando en Los Ángeles, como parte de las festividades del All Star Weekend de la NBA, el campamento #BWBGlobal que reúne a los mejores prospects internacionales. Argentina muy bien representada con Flor Chagas, Francisco Caffaro, Francisco Farabello y Lean Bolmaro. pic.twitter.com/OxPw3KPbVW— CABB (@cabboficial) February 17, 2018
Like many of her most talented peers around the world on the FIBA youth scene, Chagas has had the thrill of being a Basketball Without Borders Global camp participant.
“It was an incredible experience,” she recalled.
“It is indescribable what they are doing with this project, seeing players from around the world, giving them the opportunity to train and see NBA games. It is a really great environment and different to anything else.
“The coaches and training sessions of this level help so much, motivate and empower you. It may have only been a few days but something I will never forget.”
Ante esta foto sobran las palabras.— Manu Niel (@ManuNiel) February 15, 2019
Feliz por ustedes! Orgulloso que nos representen es poco.
Disfruten lo que vivan. Expriman cada segundo. Y sigan dejando la celeste y blanca allá arriba. Felicitaciones @flopychagas y @SofiAcevedo_ ! pic.twitter.com/jZBPq82x8k
Although while the prestige of such camps represent a big tick in the box and a nice learning curve, such is the drive and ambition of Chagas that you get the sense that what comes from within remains the biggest fuel for success.
She insists: “I think training and practicing is the most important thing of all, because without this, I wouldn’t be where I am.
“Every day I try to improve, but to do that, it is necessary to keep training, improve each day in every way and always take care of myself through my diet and physical rest.”
YOUNGER SISTER CHOOSES URUGUAY
With such a great attitude, Chagas can be a role model to many aspiring athletes. One of them is her own sister Luciana, who is tipped to follow in the family footsteps. Well, almost in the same footsteps.
For her younger sibling is a talented player in her own right, but has opted not to pull on the famous Argentina jersey, but to wear Uruguay national colors instead (their father is from Uruguay).
“In the beginning, it was difficult to accept that she wouldn’t be playing in the same shirt as me,” confessed Chagas senior.
“The most important thing though is that she is happy. When they called, her eyes lit up and when she got back from the first training session, she was so happy and that was good enough for me.
“One day I hope we do play against each other, and while it would be a little difficult, at the same time, it would be interesting and fun.”
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She continued: “I have a good relationship with my sister, she is such a good person that it would be difficult to fight with her.
“When it comes to training and playing, we are both 100% competitive. I honestly hope she is much better than I am when she is older, that she never lowers her arms and keeps searching for her biggest dreams to come true.
“To me that would be a great accomplishment,” smiled Chagas as she wrapped things up.