Who would have thought that this week would be so exciting! That our emotions would be running from high in the galaxy to as down as you can think of.
The main basketball events I am talking about are the European Championship B -U16 and the pre-qualification of the Dutch National Team.
The -U16 did very well in their group, and by beating Ukraine in the first game, they became first in their group. This week they had to play Belgium in the quarter-finals, Georgia in semi-finals and if they did well Greece in the finals.
And they did well. The U16 players were on fire! Together with enthusiasm from the supporters who help to bring that fire. I am surprised they weren't kicked out of the sports plaza, hahaha….
Belgium seemed easy, Georgia was tough. But the team did it, and the promotion to the A-division was a fact. The team played well, and some players really stood up.
In the finals, the team fought like lions, but unfortunately, the Greece team was taller and more experienced.
The Dutch National Team won surprisingly in Austria and a -not so good- win in the Netherlands on Albania. Last Wednesday, they had to win (or lose with no more than 6 points) from Austria to get the first place in the pre-qualifications group. It was a home game, the team was focused and relaxed. The Sporthallen-Zuid was completely packed with Orange Lions supporters. It was a great atmosphere, and we were all convinced that they would win.
All went well, but suddenly the Orange Lions were behind in points. Everybody was calculating … 6 points loss would be all right, just not 7 points. We all knew the guard with the beard, as I call him, was a smart guy and damn, he did it again. So the Dutch had to make a foul immediately and certainly not on a 3-point shot. Anyway…. we all know what happened. So we had to win the last game from Albania with at least 49 points… No one really thought there was a chance… Yesterday everybody was watching the -U16 finals and was not so much interested in the game of the Dutch National Team. But when the final was over, I switched to the Orange Lions game and did not believe what I saw.. At that time there was a 35 points difference, early in the third quarter. Anyway, within a split second the difference went up to 40, 45, 60 and at the end of the game even over 70 points. .. Group winner!!!
So far, that is what happened on the court. But there happened a lot off court and on Social Media as well. I have never seen and read so many emotional reactions. As people know me I cherish the positive responses, and there were a lot when the teams won. But last Wednesday I really felt sorry for Worthy de Jong and was proud of him, that he stood up and took the responsibility of the loss. But you do not lose a game in the last 3 seconds. It was stupid, but the loss was a loss of the team and the coach and not of one player. Of course, the coach told them what to do, of course the other players had to make the foul…. But the game and the 7 points were lost in Q4, not only on the last foul.
There was a lot of criticism on the team, that they were not focused enough, that they do not take it seriously, that they do not listen to the coach and so on…. But the team proved it can win. I asked Thomas van der Mars how that could happen. “It was a rollercoaster this week. We had given away the 1st place and knew we had to show what we could achieve. Focus on the game, and we promised to fight ’til the end! We knew we can do it and make our supporters proud of us. We are looking forward to the next qualification”.
You win, they praise, you lose, they criticize.. Ok, I understand a bit when it comes to the Dutch National Team, but I absolutely do not understand this on the U16 team. Winning silver is great, but it means you lose the finals. And that sucks.. I saw all guys being so disappointed at the end of the game, and I understand. But after 1 or 2 hours I hope, they had a big party in the hotel, because they played great during the whole championship. Not only one or two players, but the whole team!!
But after a loss, people start evaluating right away and not enjoying the moment. What went wrong, who did wrong and how can we improve. So despite the fact, the boys did great at the end of the tournament people were talking about what went wrong.
I am aware that sports on the highest level requires evaluation and criticism to improve. I realise that as an athlete on this level you need to accept people talking about your skills on the court.
But I believe in enjoying the moment and evaluate on a long-term. Be a supporter in good and bad times…
Editor in Chief
If you want to know more about the Dutch National team and their players,
read the interview with Thomas van der Mars, which will be online tomorrow!