Chilean SG Sebastian Herrera prepares to shoot a free throw against Bosnia & Herzegovina at the 2014 Albert Schweitzer Tournament

Chilean SG Sebastian Herrera prepares to shoot a free throw against Bosnia & Herzegovina at the 2014 Albert Schweitzer Tournament

The Albert Schweitzer Tournament debutants Chile pulled off by far the biggest upset of the 2014 edition by knocking off France 68-67 in overtime. The South Americans have seven underclass players born in 1997 or 1998, and head coach Juan Manuel Cordoba is urging them to go abroad and learn the game and develop their basketball to improve the state of the Chilean national team.

A number of Chileans have already heard Cordoba’s call and attend high schools and colleges in the United States. One Chilean who will likely leave the country for next season is shooting guard Sebastian Herrera, who scored 22 points in the big victory over France.

Herrera and the rest of the young Chileans are hoping to finally put the country back on the map. Chile after all hasn’t played on the world stage since hosting the 1959 FIBA World Championship and taking third place – repeating their showing from the 1950 Worlds.

heinnews took time at the Albert Schweitzer Tournament to talk to Herrera about another Chilean up-rising.

heinnews: Hi Sebastian, we are here at the 2014 Albert Schweitzer Tournament, where Chile is making its debut in the event. The highlight has been Chile’s win over France in overtime. How do you think the tournament has gone?

Herrerra: It’s been amazing. Our players have never been to a world championship. It’s a big tournament. We’ve only played FIBA Americas and South America. It’s a great experience and we have to learn from it.

heinnews: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from the experience?

Herrerra: A lot, playing against very good teams. Everybody is really tall. Our team is small, and that’s a big difference. They are tall and athletic. We have to learn about that and play hard.

heinnews: What did you think it would be like when you came here?

Herrerra: I thought it would be tough, and that’s how it is. We only reached the FIBA Americas and that showed that we are not prepared for this. But it’s a great experience and we have to learn from it.

heinnews: Was it tougher than you thought?

Herrerra: No, I thought it would be tougher. We got a win. We didn’t expect that. But of course it’s tough.

heinnews: You and Chile pulled off a huge upset in beating France. What’s it like to beat a storied basketball nation like France?

Herrerra: It was fun. We enjoyed the game. We celebrated a lot because France is France and we are Chile and they probably don’t even know where Chile is. Beating them in overtime by one point, it’s a huge win.

heinnews: Would you say that’s probably the biggest victory in Chilean basketball?

Herrerra: I think so. It’s been 55 years and we’ve not been in a world championship and playing against big teams like France, Spain, Italy and USA. It’s the biggest win in our history.

heinnews: Let’s talk a bit about you. Your mother was born in Germany. How did she land in Chile?

Herrerra: My mother is from Dusseldorf. She came to Chile in 1982 and she met my father and I have four brothers.

heinnews: Did either of your parents play basketball?

Herrerra: My father, in a small town in southern Chile.

heinnews: So you have a double passport?

Herrerra: Yeah, I do.

heinnews: I have heard that you are thinking about going to the United States. What is the latest on that, what kind of offers do you have et cetera?

Herrerra: I have some offers in Houston, Texas. One prep and one high school. But I’m expecting to get something here (Germany). I want to go to the States so I can grow up and learn basketball and make myself better. And the dream of everybody is to get to the NBA or here in Europe.

heinnews: Is there a place in the U.S. that you want to go? I know that Nicolas Carvacho is in Frisco, Texas. Is Texas also because he’s down there?

Herrerra: My father talked to Carvacho’s father. My manager talked to some places there and it’s not sure but Texas would be good.

heinnews: Are you set on going to the States? With a German passport, that means you can play two more years with an NBBL team of a Beko BBL team. Is that something you might want to do?

Herrerra: I want to go out of Chile. The States, Europe, both sides are good. The States is so big and some places are good and some others might not be so good. But if some offer comes out of here (Germany) and I have more offers then we’ll see. Whatever’s better is better. I’m not thinking only USA.

heinnews: Do you have a timeframe by when you want to decide?

Herrerra: By July or August, I will be here (Germany) or the States. Because then I will start 11th grade.

heinnews: More and more Chileans are going to the United States for high school and college. That is largely because of coach Juan Manuel Cordoba saying you and the others should leave Chile and get a better basketball education. What do you think about that?

Herrerra: We have like 10 guys in the States. A couple of them are Division I guys like Sebastian Suarez at Portland State and Eugenio Luzcando, who is going to Idaho State. And all of these guys have been coached by Cordoba.

heinnews: So, what has Coach Cordoba told you and the others?

Herrerra: He told me I should go out because I have potential and them too. In Chile, we have nothing. It’s not the same or like in the States.

heinnews: Is it correct to say that Chilean basketball is on the rise? That the win over France is just the first step?

Herrerra: Yeah, yeah, It’s the first step I guess for a great group of guys – the years 1995-98.

heinnews: Could you say that Cordoba is the Godfather of Chilean basketball?

Herrerra:(Laughs) Yeah, sure. He’s kind of crazy sometimes but he pushes everybody to grow up and go out.

heinnews: Did I see somewhere that you’re in the Deutsche Schule (German School) in Santiago?

Herrerra: Schweitzer Schule (Swiss School), but we learn German.

heinnews: Was that your mom telling you to do that?

Herrerra: Yeah, that’s right.

heinnews: Let’s finish with your game. You’ve struggled here shooting (14 of 49 – 29 percent; 6 of 29 – 21 percent on threes). You hit some big shots against France. But generally you have struggled. Where do you see your game?

Herrerra: I shoot a lot but I’m not making it. That’s not my game. Usually I make it. That’s why I shoot. Here it’s different. Everything is faster, they are tougher and stronger. That’s an excuse, but that’s why I’m not making it. But I know that I’m a good shooter. Not everybody may think that. But it’s true.

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