Johan Roijakkers (agency: Stanley International ) is in his first year as head coach of BC Prievidza and I had a change speaking with him before his team will play MBK Rieker Komarno in the Slovakian Playoffs Finals on Saturday night. He is always focused to achieve the goals for the season, with an eye on the long term-perspective with integration of young talent. He likes to work in a real team orientated organization who wants to make a step forward. Prior to his leaving to coach in the NBA Development League in November 2010, Roijakkers was working for the Belgium National television (Sporza) as a co-commentator for the games in the Belgian Top League Johan Roijakkers is experienced with an international network. Although he is still young for a coach he was able to work in the last 7 years with Chris Finch and Arik Shivek. Their coaching experience and international network were able to help Roijakkers build a thorough understanding of the game at a high international level.
Please tell us a little bit about your coaching and training background? I started my professional coaching career when I was 23years in Belgium with Bree. The GM Eddy Swaeb and coach Paul Vervaeck gave me chance to start my professional coaching career, till this day I am very thankful that they gave me this opportunity. During the season unfortunately the head coach left the team and I had to take over the team. Even despite my young age we did very well and had a successful remainder of the season, we made it to the Final Four of the Belgium Cup and were able to beat all the top teams in the league. I did decided that I wanted to be an assistant again, because I felt I still had a lot to learn about the game of basketball. The season after I started to work together with Rudi Kuyl and Chris Finch. In our first year together Chris, Rudi and me won right away the Belgium Championship, the only title ever in the history of Bree. The season after we played in the ULEB cup where we beat teams like Lukoil Academic, Aris Thessaloniki, Ventpils and Alba Berlin even twice. We also won the Belgium Super Cup that season and also in our third season together we made it to the Belgian Finals. After three great seasons in Bree we went to Dexia Mons-Hainaut. In 2 years we made it to the Belgium Cup finals, the Euro Cup final and the Belgium League finals. At the beginning of our third season in Mons Chris decided to work for the Houston Rockets/Rio Grande Vipers. Last season we decided to work together again and we were happy to make it to the NBA Development league finals. Chris Finch basically learned me everything about the game but even maybe more important how to deal with player personnel and how to built a winning team and organization. He was and is the best coach/person I have ever met in this job by far!
Did you always know you could succeed at this level, or was it something you had to prove to yourself? As I told before the past 6 seasons I was always an assistant coach with Chris Finch, in the 6 years that we worked together we made it to 6 different Finals. For me it was a big challenge at the start of this season to keep continuing this successful period. And I am happy that I continue to put another final on my resume this season.
Johan, when you arrived to Slovakia, did you find a team that you thought was ready to return to the top of the Slovakian league? Not really. When I came in August 5 weeks before the season started we didn't have a single player signed, we had no pre season games scheduled and we had no organization around the team. Prievidza finished last season in 9th place with a budget that was 3 times bigger than this season. I felt when I came in that there was not a lot of believe in this organization and my team. But I have to congratulate my management and board with putting a winning organization together with very limited financial possibilities. We had to deal with a lot of off court problems, but my players did a great job with staying focused on what really matters: 'winning games'. That's why Prievidza is back for the first time in 16 (!!!) years in a final series!
The team is a very close-knit group, how important is that to help bring wins? It is very important. When things don't go well you have to stick together as a team and organization. My guys always did that, that's what brought us to this final series.
What do you think has been a key factor contributing to the teams success? When I started to recruit, Chris Finch gave me one important advice: 'make sure you recruit good guys for your first head coach job'. On all my players I did a detailed back ground check to make sure I had good personalities in my team. Second off all I wanted players that were hungry to prove something, I signed 3 rookies, 2 guys that didn't have a job last season and 2 players that were released early the season before. Third of all I wanted players that were willing to play unselfish basketball. This last point is key to be successful in the offensive system I like to run. At the end of the season we had 0 players in 10 top of scoring, but we had 3 players in top 10 of assists! That's how I like it, and I think this is part of our success.
What are you going to have to do to prevent the team from getting down? There is still of ton of work of the court that needs to improve for Prievidza to be consistent in the top 4 of Slovakia. We know what these things are, we just have to keep getting better every day as a organization.
What is the most important aspect of basketball your team needs to focus on in order to be prepared for the Playoffs Final? We have to keep bringing the defense that we brought every single game in the series against Levice and Nitra. If we do that, we have a chance to beat a top team like Komarno.
When did you realize this team could be as good as it was? Was there a particular game during the season that stood out that said to you weve taken that next step? I think our win at Nova Ves early in december made me think we could be really good. We had 3 starters fouling out early in the 3th quarter, but we were still able to find a way to get a W at Nova Ves. This W gave all our guys a ton of confidence.
With this group, you have the flexibility to go small. Is there still a concern about frontcourt depth with this team? I have no doubt about the depth of my front court. All my players can play multiply positions, this gives me the flexibility to move around my personnel at any time during the game.
Talk about the offensive-defensive systems you employ and how are the systems derived? We run a motion based offense. The thought behind our system is to do something for somebody else. If everybody is doing something for somebody eventually everybody is creating for themselves. I think it is fun to watch, fun to coach and fun to play. On defensive we do a lot of different things. I do put a lot of pressure on my guys to stop their man 1on1. I give my players a lot of freedom on offense, but zero on defense.
For a coach in important games like those as the Playoffs Final, how important is preparation before the game compared to making decisions during it? I think both are very important. You have to prepare your team as good as possible before every game, so your chances of winning are as high as possible. But also during the game you have to be able to make adjustments to your game plan to give your team a chance to win.
What must your team do to win the 2012 Slovakian Championship? Since we don't have home court advantage, we have to take care of business at home and try to steal a game on the road.
Would you rather coach a team that is in an underdog position, or a team that is heavily favored? I don't really have a preference for this. Teams that go out and focus on doing their stuff well, always have a chance to win. No matter what their position is.
Why is being a coach the best job in the world? It is great to get a bunch of younger and older guys together and to make them better as individuals and as a team. That's what I personally think this job makes it a great pleasure to do it every single day.
Johan, Thanks for your time doing this interview and wish you and your team a lot of success at the Finals.
Worthy de Jong selected the top Dutch players playing abroad in last week's games - 1 day ago
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Here is the weekly review of the top performing Dutch players, who play currently abroad. Kim Tillie (210-PF-88) could not help Baskonia (17-13) in their last game. Despite his good performance Baskonia was edged 84-82 on the road by the second-ranked CSKA.
Here is the weekly review of the top performing Dutch players, who play currently abroad.
#1. This week's number one is an international shooting guard Worthy de Jong (194-88, currently plays in France). de Jong could not help SO Maritime Boulogne (10-18) in their last game. Despite his very good performance SO Maritime Boulogne lost 73-86 on the road to the higher-ranked (#13) Chorale de Roanne.
de Jong was the top scorer with 21 points. He also added 3 assists and 3 steals in 22 minutes on the court.
It's de Jong's first season with the team.
This year de Jong averages: 9.9ppg, 3.0rpg, 2.0apg, 1.6spg, 2FGP: 46.5%, 3FGP: 34.9% and FT: 63.8% in 28 games he played so far.
He is currently a member of the Dutch senior national team.
#2. Second place goes to former U20 international center Jito Kok (206-94, agency: Court Side, college: San Diego, currently plays in Estonia). Kok led Rapla to an easy victory against the sixth-ranked Valga (12-20) crushing them 99-70 in the Estonian Alexela KML in Thursday night's game.
He scored 12 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and dished 3 assists.
AVIS UTILITAS Rapla (20-12) is placed second in the Alexela KML.
Kok's overall stats this season are: 5.6ppg, 3.4rpg, 2FGP: 49.1% and FT: 59.4%.
He played for the Dutch U20 national team in 2014.
#3. The Dutch player who performed third best last week abroad was former international power forward Josh Duinker (209-89, college: Richmond, currently plays in New Zealand). Duinker was the major contributor in Saints' victory against the closely-ranked Rangers (4-3) crushing them 103-67 in the New Zealand NBL last Friday.
He scored 18 points, had 8 rebounds and dished 3 assists in 20 minutes.
It was the game of the round between two top 4 ranked teams. Wellington Saints (9-0) are placed first in the NBL.
So far his team won all nine games in the Regular Season.
Duinker has individually a very good year with high stats. He averages: 15.1ppg, 7.4rpg, 2.2apg, 2FGP: 58.6%(51-87) and FT: 86.2% in nine games.
Duinker has a dual citizenship: Dutch and Australian.
Former Zorg and Zekerheid Leiden starter played for the Dutch national team four years ago.
#4. Power forward Roeland Schaftenaar (211-88, college: Oregon St., currently plays in Greece) managed to help A.G.O Rethymno Aegean to win against the league outsider Doxa Lefkadas (4-22) 80-67 in the Greek A1 on Thursday night.
He scored 5 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and dished 4 assists.
A.G.O Rethymno Aegean (13-13) is placed sixth in the A1.
Schaftenaar's team will play only one more game in the Regular Season. And that game will be critical.
Schaftenaar's overall stats this season are: 5.7ppg, 4.1rpg and 1.1apg.
He is also Dutch national team player.
#5. International guard Charlon Kloof (190-90, agency: Octagon Europe, college: St.Bonaventure, currently plays in FYR Macedonia) contributed to a MZT Skopje's victory against the fourth-ranked Kozuv (2-5) 79-75 in the FYR Macedonian Prva Liga in Friday night's game.
Kloof recorded 10 points and added 5 assists in 23 minutes.
KK MZT Skopje Aerodrom (7-0) is placed first in Places 1-6 group.
So far his team won all seven games in the Second Stage.
There are only three games left until the end of the Second Stage. So now every game is very crucial.
Kloof has relatively good stats this year: 10.4ppg, 4.1rpg, 4.4apg and 1.4spg in seven games.
He is another player who holds two passports: Surinamese and Dutch.
Kloof plays currently for the Dutch national team.
#6. Center Nicolas de Jong (210-88, currently plays in France) was not able to help one of league's weakest teams Chalons-Reims (9-19) in their last game on Friday. Despite his good performance Chalons-Reims was defeated 82-69 in Antibes by the higher-ranked Olympique (#15).
de Jong recorded 12 points and grabbed 4 rebounds.
This season de Jong has relatively solid stats: 12.6ppg and 3.3rpg.
He is an international player who is currently on the senior Dutch National Team roster.
#7. Former international power forward Jeroen van der List (213-89, college: Indian Hills CC, currently plays in Japan) led Shinshu BW to a victory against the second-ranked Toyotsu FE (38-16) 82-78 in the Japanese B League D2 on Saturday night.
van der List had a double-double by scoring 13 points and getting 11 rebounds. He also added 4 blocks in 25 minutes.
Shinshu Brave Warriors Nagano (13-41) is placed sixth in Central group.
They ended the series of thirteen consecutive loses.
van der List has reliable stats this year: 14.0ppg, 8.9rpg, 1.5apg and 1.6bpg in 22 games.
He used to play for the Dutch national team
three years ago.
#8. Center Henk Norel (213-87, currently plays in Spain) helped Zaragoza edge the closely-ranked Joventut (9-19) 71-69 in the Spanish Liga Endesa in Sunday night's game.
Norel scored 6 points and grabbed 4 rebounds.
Tecnyconta Zaragoza (9-19) is placed 15th in the Liga Endesa.
It was his team's first victory after four consecutive loses.
There are only four games left until the end of the Regular Season. So now every game will be important.
Norel is one of the most experienced players in a team as it's his fifth year in Zaragoza's roster.
His overall stats this season are: 9.1ppg, 6.1rpg and 1.2apg.
Norel used to play for the Dutch national team
back in 2015.
#9. Former international point guard Leon Williams (189-91, currently plays in Germany) helped BG Goettingen win their game against the ninth-ranked EnBW Ludwigsburg (15-15) 84-75 in the German BBL last Monday.
He recorded 8 points in 16 minutes.
BG Goettingen (19-3) is placed first in the BBL.
It was his team's sixth consecutive victory in a row.
There are only three games left until the end of the Regular Season.
This year Williams' overall stats are: 5.4ppg, 1.6rpg and 2.4apg in 27 games.
He used to play for the Dutch national team
two years ago.
#10. Center Kevin Bleeker (208-93, also represented by Court Side, college: Canisius, currently plays in Spain) was not able to secure a victory for Navarra (15-14) in their game against Zamorano (10-19) in the Spanish LEB Silver (third division).
Bleeker scored 7 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in 18 minutes.
Navarra lost 62-72 at home to the lower-ranked (#12) Zamorano.
His team will play only one more game in the Regular Season.
This year Bleeker's total stats are: 6.6ppg and 5.0rpg in 29 games.
He is a former international player as three years ago he still played for the Dutch senior national team.
#11. Former U16 international forward Kevin van Wijk (203-89, college: Valparaiso, currently plays in Spain) couldn't help Melilla Baloncesto in their game against Gipuzkoa in the Spanish LEB Gold (second division). van Wijk cannot count Sunday's game as one of the best ones.
He scored only 3 points.
His team was edged 78-76.
van Wijk has averaged so far 5.9ppg, 3.3rpg and 1.1apg.
He used to play for the Dutch U16 national team
twelve years ago.
The list of other players, who all have Dutch passport but never been selected to any of Dutch national teams:
#1.Kim Tillie (210-PF-88, college: Utah, currently plays in Euroleague) could not help Baskonia (17-13) in their last game. Despite his good performance Baskonia was edged 84-82 on the road by the second-ranked CSKA.
Tillie scored 10 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in 22 minutes.
This year Tillie averages: 7.1ppg, 3.8rpg and 1.1apg in 31 games he played so far.
He has a dual citizenship: Dutch and French.
#2.Ryan Broekhoff (200-F-90, college: Valparaiso, currently plays in VTB United League) was the major contributor in Lokomotiv's victory against the seventh-ranked VEF Riga (10-12) 80-69 in the VTB United League last Thursday.
Broekhoff scored 18 points and grabbed 8 rebounds.
Lokomotiv Kuban (18-5) is placed fourth in group A.
It was his team's fifth consecutive victory in a row.
They will play only one more game in the VTB United League Regular Season. And that game will be critical.
This season Broekhoff averages: 7.9ppg and 5.0rpg.
He is another player who holds two passports: Australian and Dutch.
#3.Tom Slutsky (193-G-92, currently plays in Israel) led Hapoel Afula to an easy victory against the second-ranked Hap.Haifa (10-16) crushing them 96-71 in the Israeli National League (second division) on Saturday night.
Slutsky scored 14 points, grabbed 4 rebounds and dished 4 assists.
It was the game of the round between two top 3 ranked teams in group Play-Downs. Hapoel Afula (12-14) is placed first.
Slutsky's total stats this season are: 4.3ppg and 1.1rpg.
He has both Dutch and Israeli nationalities.
Despite Slutsky's Dutch passport, he previously played for the Israeli U18 national team and is probably not eligible to play for the Dutch team.
#4.Jamal Smith (197-F-92, college: Chattanooga St, currently plays in Belgium) was not able to help Houthalen in their game against Waregem (18-7) in the Belgian Top Division I (second division). Smith cannot count Saturday's game as one of the best ones.
He scored only 2 points in 26 minutes.
Houthalen lost 79-85 at home to the higher-ranked (#3) Waregem.
Smith has averaged so far 8.8ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.2apg and 1.1spg in 27 games.
He is a naturalized American.
Smith used to play for The Bright Kings Den Helder in Dutch league.
Eredivisie Round 3 of Quarter-Finals. Leiden complete semifinal picture - 1 day ago
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Leiden - Amsterdam 75-56 Leiden outgunned Amsterdam in the decisive third game of the series and advanced into Eredivisie semifinal stage. The game was mostly controlled by Leiden. Amsterdam managed to win fourth quarter 15-14. But it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. Leiden looked well-organized offensively handing out 22 assists. Great defensive blocking was one of the keys in this match when Leiden made 8 blocks. The best player for the winners was internat... [read more]
Leiden outgunned Amsterdam in the decisive third game of the series and advanced into Eredivisie semifinal stage. The game was mostly controlled by Leiden. Amsterdam managed to win fourth quarter 15-14. But it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. Leiden looked well-organized offensively handing out 22 assists. Great defensive blocking was one of the keys in this match when Leiden made 8 blocks. The best player for the winners was international forward Mohamed Kherrazi (200-90) who scored 12 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. The former international Jessey Voorn (197-90, agency: Court Side) chipped in 22 points. Four Leiden players scored in double figures. At the other side the best for losing team was the former international swingman Dimeo Van-Der-Horst (197-91) who recorded 20 points and Surinamese Sergio de-Randamie (201-84, college: Houston) added 12 points and 6 rebounds respectively. Both coaches used bench players which allowed the starters a little rest for the next games. Top scorers: Leiden: J.Voorn 22+2reb+1ast, M.Kherrazi 12+8reb+6ast, T.Koenis 10+12reb+1ast, R.Jansen 10+1reb+8ast, D.Draper 9+7reb+1ast, J.Lee 5+4reb+4ast Amsterdam: D.Van Der Horst 20+4reb+3ast, S.de Randamie 12+6reb+2ast, S.Mulder 9+2reb+1ast, A.Roye 6+5reb+3ast, G.Slagter 5+6reb, M.Bruining 2
Eredivisie Round 2 of Quarter-Finals. Den Bosch enter semifinal stage - 4 days ago
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Amsterdam - Leiden 70-78 Leiden rallied past Amsterdam on the road to even the semifinal series at 1-1. The guests started the game with a very strong first quarter 25-12. But Amsterdam won second period 21-13. However it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. Leiden dominated down low during the game scoring 52 of its points in the paint compared to Amsterdam's 22. The best player for the winners was international forward Mohamed Kherrazi (200-90) who scored 9 poi... [read more]
Leiden rallied past Amsterdam on the road to even the semifinal series at 1-1. The guests started the game with a very strong first quarter 25-12. But Amsterdam won second period 21-13. However it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. Leiden dominated down low during the game scoring 52 of its points in the paint compared to Amsterdam's 22. The best player for the winners was international forward Mohamed Kherrazi (200-90) who scored 9 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists. American point guard Jonathan Lee (188-90, college: Northeastern, agency: Court Side) chipped in 21 points and 4 assists. The former international point guard Aaron Roye (184-88) produced 23 points and 7 rebounds and Surinamese Sergio de-Randamie (201-84, college: Houston) added 16 points and 6 rebounds respectively for the hosts. Top scorers: Amsterdam: A.Roye 23+7reb+2ast, D.Van Der Horst 17+2reb+3ast, S.de Randamie 16+6reb+2ast, J.Markusse 6+3reb, G.Slagter 6+3reb+2ast, H.Kherrazi 2+1reb+1ast Leiden: J.Lee 21+2reb+4ast, D.Draper 19+6reb+1ast, T.Koenis 12+8reb+2ast, M.Kherrazi 9+13reb+7ast, J.Voorn 7+2reb+2ast, R.Jansen 5+2ast
Den Bosch knocked down Rotterdam away from home to sweep the series. The game was mostly controlled by Den Bosch. Rotterdam was better in second period 13-11. But it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. Den Bosch had a 33-20 advantage in offensive rebounds. American forward Charles Mitchell (203, college: Georgia Tech, agency: Three Eye Sports) orchestrated the victory with a double-double by scoring 16 points and 15 rebounds. Point guard Maarten Bouwknecht (185-94) contributed with 19 points, 5 assists and 4 steals for the winners. Four Den Bosch players scored in double figures. Den Bosch's coach Sander van der Holst allowed to play the deep bench players saving starting five for next games. American guard Jermaine Marshall (193-90, college: Arizona St.) replied with 19 points and his fellow American import forward Greg Mays (203-93, college: Green Bay) added 8 points and 11 rebounds in the effort for Rotterdam. Top scorers: Rotterdam: J.Marshall 19+4reb+3ast, S.Van Dijk 10+4reb+3ast, T.Theeuwkens 9+3reb+2ast, G.Mays 8+11reb+1ast, L.Steijn 6+4reb, M.Kok 6+1reb+1ast Den Bosch: M.Bouwknecht 19+4reb+5ast, J.Watts 17+3reb+4ast, C.Mitchell 16+15reb+2ast, D.Balentine 11+2reb+1ast, S.Wessels 9+10reb+2ast, K.Akerboom 5+6reb+1ast
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