The Barry University men’s basketball team flew to Costa Rica last month to begin preparing for the season.
The week-long trip in mid-August included three exhibition games against local squads, but the coaching staff and players highlighted the team-building nature of the tour.
Through interactions with local children, community service projects and excursions into the wild, the Buccaneers came closer as a team. Coach Butch Estes called it a “band of brothers.”
“It was truly a great experience, not only for our players, but for our coaching staff and the parents that were able to make it too,” said Estes, who led the team on its first international trip in the 34-year history of the program.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Chilean shooting guard Marcelo Perez especially enjoyed his time spent at an elementary school, where children ages 7 to 10 challenged the Bucs’ soccer and Spanish skills — two other things he can do well. Many of his teammates and coaches joked around saying he finally felt like everyone could understand him.
The 6-5 freshman certainly seemed to gel with the rest of the Buccaneers on court. Perez was a standout in the 77-59 victory against the Costa Rican National Team, where he was able to create in transition. Like him, 7 out of 14 members of the roster are international players.
The Bucs won their other two games against the Costa Rica U-23 squad, and pro team Coopeservidores Escazu, with a special contribution by Norwegian forward Johannes Dolven on the glass. By the last game, coach Estes was already trying new lineups every few minutes.
The team spent the rest of its time bonding over zip-line excursions, coffee tours and sunsets at the beach.
Junior guard Leandro Allende emphasized on the time spent together with his fellow teammates in a relaxed environment.
“David [Moya], Justinas [Marcinkevicius], Kenan [Guzonjic] and myself all went to the beach. There was a little island next to the hotel and we walked around for about half-an-hour to an hour,” he said. “I think this was a great opportunity for us to grow together. I’m new here and I already feel like this team and BarryU is my home.”
“We have a new coaching staff and new teammates. It was important to try and build our culture early,” added junior swingman Evan Walshe.
The Division II Buccaneers open up their NCAA season on Tuesday, October 30th against the University of Miami at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables. Barry finished the 2017-18 season with a 23-9 record that included a road win over Auburn University.
NOTE: The Miami Herald is now offering a digital sports-only subscription for $30 per year. This is unlimited access to all Herald sports stories, thus allowing you to comment in the section below as many times as you wish. Click right here to get started immediately.