Every summer for Nan Garcia has involved a lot of time on the basketball court, but this summer prior to the Jeffersonville standout's senior year has included some marquee events.
The 6-foot-2 forward represented Indiana on the Junior All-Stars, playing with and against some of the state's elite national prospects. The past several weeks, Garcia was able to put on a Puerto Rico jersey for the first time in the FIBA Centrobasket U17 Women's Championships. She was born in Puerto Rico, a United States territory, and moved to Indiana at the age of 2 with her parents.
After arriving in San Juan on June 22 and participating in a couple weeks of practice, Garcia and her teammates began competition against teams from The Bahamas, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Barbados.
Following a dominant 3-0 performance in pool play, Garcia and Puerto Rico topped the Dominican Republic in the semifinals with Garcia posting a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Garcia broke a 59-59 tie by knocking down 1 of 2 at the free-throw line with one minute, four seconds remaining in the game. Puerto Rico stopped the Dominican Republic from scoring
"I have amazing teammates. It's been extremely fun. It's been an unforgettable experience. It's one thing to represent your country but competing for gold, it's the best feeling," Garcia said in a telephone interview prior the championship.
Garcia played well throughout the tournament, averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds, but Mexico nipped the Puerto Rican squad for a 61-56 win in the finals.
"They were a great team and even though we didn't get the win, it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Garcia said Friday.
Garcia's aggressive play allowed her to get 38 free-throw attempts in the five games at Roberto Clemente Coliseum. She knocked down 28 for a 73-percent mark at the free-throw line. Garcia hit 5 for 25 from 3-point range during the tournament. The FIBA 3-point arc measures 22-feet-1 3/4 from the hoop, a bit deeper than the 19-feet and 3/4-inch distance in high school.
"The game's a little faster. FIBA has different rules. It's still basketball, you still have to put the ball in the basket," Garcia said.
Garcia described the solid crowds of 500 to 600 fans in attendance.
"For our fans to come out and support us, there is no better feeling," Garcia said.
It was a memorable experience doing something she loves.
"At the end of the day, I'm still playing basketball every day. It's not been much of a change," said Garcia, who is looking forward to a big senior season. "I've heard nothing but good stuff about what they're doing back home. I'm pretty excited. High school ball is the best part. To give it one last go round with my teammates, it means a lot."