As the glow of the London Olympics and the U17 World Championship for Women starts to fade, some of us start to look ahead for the long-term opportunities that have emerged from The Games. On the team sports side, the surprising qualification run of the Netherlands womens basketball team raised many eyebrows and shows that there is growth in the game during the Year of Basketball. The womens team received a huge boost in the eyes of the international public with the great run during the Championship, upsetting Spain and Turkey.
Niels Meijer (204-F-80) is account manager at the Johan Cruyff Sports Institute Amsterdam and formerly played as a professional at BC Omniworld Almere, Amsterdam Astronauts and Donar Groningen. As a native Dutch, Niels played professional basketball for 17 years in Europe and now lives in Amsterdam. We caught up with Niels to ask him about global hoops and the growing interest in basketball in the Netherlands.
In a country where basketball is not a popular sport, how did you start playing basketball and where did you start? I come from a real basketball family. Both of my parents are passionate about the game, as well as my uncles. I started playing when I was 7 year old in my hometown Velsen. At the age of 16, I played my first game for a professional team in Almere. After that I transferred to Amsterdam. I have played there for 6 years, including winning 2 championships and 2 cupfinals. During that period I received my first invitation for the national team, which I have been representing since then for 4 years. Unfortunately I had end my career because of a major knee injury.
What was your experience as a professional basketball player in the Netherlands? Compared to other European countries, basketball in the Netherlands is not that popular. There are 3 or 4 top teams that rule the competition every year. Luckily for me I was on these teams, so every year I had the chance to play for the European Cup. I played against big teams like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Girona, Khimki Moscow, etc. I played against a lot of big names like Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio and Rudy Fernandez.
Amsterdam just hosted the U17 Women Basketball World Championship, with a great performance by the Dutch team. What do you expect in the next years for the Netherlands in basketball? Especially the level of womens basketball has grown during the last couple of years. This is because a few years ago the city of Amsterdam, the National Olympic Committee and the Dutch Basketball Federation started a project called the CTO (Centre for Topsport and Education). Their main focus is on the sports and they organize about 25 hours a week of basketball practice. In the past years they visibly increased the players strength, mental toughness and of course their technical and tactical game. At the same time, the U20 reached the semi-finals during the European Championship. A great proof that this program is working!
The NBB is also working to promote the year of Womens Basketball? Is it the reason for the Orange Success in the U17? The best reason is of course the performance of the girls themselves. I think that what might have helped a little is the success of U17. But again, all credit goes to the team and its staff. However, I personally still have the ambition to help the sports to a higher level in the Netherlands. Together with an ex-teammate I started a network group for Dutch former internationals. Our goal is to be an external consultancy group for our Federation and for other basketball organizations.
What do you think should be done to take basketball to the next level in the Netherlands? The CTO project should continue as it is. It should be noted that it only exist through the funding of the NOC (the Dutch Olympic Committee) and the government. So this should be regarded as its structure for the future. If they continue like they do, I have no doubt that we will see our womens national team at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The same goes for our wheelchair basketball teams. They also started a program for both women and men who are competing on a professional basis. The wheelchair women won the bronze medal at the Paralympics in Londen 2012.The mens national basketball team however is struggling. There is no plan or vision whatsoever. In my opinion they should use the blueprint of the CTO program for the women and focus on their youth (U14 and U16).
What can you tell us about the recruiting landscape from North America and the rest of Europe seeking Dutch players? Of course the experience you find in the competition of North America is really special. As a player you want to reach for the top and in North America you will find the best players, the best coaches and the best competition. So I understand the choice of most players who wish to make that step across the ocean. Another trend we see in the Netherlands is that a lot of talented players go to Spanish league at the age between 14-16. My hope for the future is that talented players will not have to travel that far to get the best accommodation, the best coaches or play against great players. I hope that soon those conditions are right here in the Netherlands. But for now, that is just a dream.
Francisco Elson and Dan Gadzuric are current players in the NBA. How do you see their experience there going thus far? I thinks for basketball in the Netherlands its great we have two players in the NBA. I think that the Dutch Federation should put them even more into the spotlight to promote the sports. To grow as a sports, you need heroes. So their experience is of great value for the next generation.
What has the Johan Cruyff Institute and its programs brought to you and the basketball world in the Netherlands? The Johan Cruyff Institute for Sport Studies educates sports people worldwide and generates projects and ideas for the sports industry. The Cruyff Institute was created by athletes, is fully sports-oriented, and aims at becoming a reference center in the sports world. The Cruyff Institute builds bridges between education and businesses through talent and knowledge development. We have had some well-known athletes in our programs, like for instance Edwin van der Sar (the famous goalkeeper). But our programs are also meant for people with a passion for sports. And this combination of athletes and people of the business world who have a passion for sports is very powerful. We aspire to help people, athletes and sport in general to a higher level. We educate, develop and connect! The Institutes offers two Master programs: The International Master of Sport Management and the Master of Coaching. I have studied the first, after which I started working for the Institute as a manager of the Master in Coaching and our online programs. In this way, I still feel very much connected to top sports in general. But who knows Someday I might return to my first love basketball.
Charlon Kloof selected the top Dutch players playing abroad in last week's games - 2 days ago
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We bring you last week's top performances from Dutch players who are playing abroad and who all have had prior experience of national team duties at youth or senior level. 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.
We bring you last week's top performances from Dutch players who are playing abroad and who all have had prior experience of national team duties at youth or senior level.
#1. This week's number one is an international guard Charlon Kloof (190-90, agency: Octagon Europe, college: St.Bonaventure, currently plays in FYR Macedonia). Kloof could not help MZT Skopje (8-1) in their last game. Despite his very good performance the first-placed MZT Skopje (8-1) lost 70-78 in a derby game to the second-ranked Rabotnicki in the Places 1-6 group.
Kloof was the top scorer with 20 points. He also added 4 rebounds in 33 minutes on the court; quite an impressive performance considering it's only Kloof's third season in pro basketball. His team will play only one more game in the Second Stage. And that game will be critical.
It's Kloof's first year with the team.
Kloof has relatively good stats this season: 11.8ppg, 4.4rpg, 4.4apg, 1.3spg, 2FGP: 56.7%(34-60), 3FGP: 23.7% and FT: 55.0% in nine games he played so far.
He has a dual citizenship: Surinamese and Dutch.
Kloof is currently a member of the Dutch senior national team.
#2. Second place goes to an international center Nicolas de Jong (210-88, currently plays in France). He was not able to help Chalons-Reims (9-20) in their last game on Tuesday. Despite de Jong's very good performance Chalons-Reims was defeated 76-71 at home by the higher-ranked Cholet Basket (#11).
He was the second best scorer with 16 points. de Jong also added 7 rebounds and dished 3 assists.
This season de Jong has relatively solid stats: 12.7ppg, 3.5rpg, 2FGP: 62.9%(139-221), 3FGP: 21.4% and FT: 68.7%.
He is in the roster of the Dutch senior national team.
#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 (4-4) 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 (10-0) are placed first in the NBL.
So far his team won all ten games in the Regular Season.
Duinker has individually a very good year with high stats. He averages: 15.3ppg, 7.3rpg, 2.4apg, 2FGP: 60.2%(59-98), 3FGP: 25.0% and FT: 86.7% in 10 games.
Duinker is another player who holds two passports: Dutch and Australian.
Former Zorg and Zekerheid Leiden starter played for the Dutch national team four years ago.
#4. Power forward Jeroen van der List (213-89, college: Indian Hills CC, currently plays in Japan) led Shinshu BW to a victory over the leader Nishinomiya Storks (40-16) 79-68 in the Japanese B League D2 on Sunday night.
He was MVP of the game. van der List recorded a double-double by scoring 24 points and getting 16 rebounds. He also added 5 assists.
Shinshu Brave Warriors Nagano (14-42) is placed sixth in Central group.
There are only four games left until the end of the Regular Season. So now every game is very crucial.
van der List has reliable stats this season: 14.9ppg, 9.3rpg, 1.8apg and 1.6bpg.
He used to play for the Dutch national team
back in 2014.
#5. Former international point guard Leon Williams (189-91, currently plays in Germany) contributed to a BG Goettingen's victory against the sixth-ranked Telekom Baskets (17-13) 78-66 in the German BBL last Sunday.
Williams scored 9 points and added 5 passes.
BG Goettingen (19-3) is placed first in the BBL.
It was his team's sixth consecutive victory in a row.
There are only two games left until the end of the Regular Season. So now every game will be important.
It's Williams' first season with the team.
His overall stats this year are: 5.6ppg, 1.5rpg and 2.5apg.
Williams used to play for the Dutch national team
two years ago.
#6. Shooting guard Worthy de Jong (194-88, currently plays in France) helped SO Maritime Boulogne win their game against the third-ranked Lille Metropole (17-13) 76-64 in the French ProB (second division) on Tuesday night.
He scored 9 points and grabbed 4 rebounds (was perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line) in 23 minutes.
SO Maritime Boulogne (11-18) is placed 16th in the ProB.
This year de Jong's overall stats are: 9.9ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.9apg and 1.7spg in 29 games.
He is an international player who is currently on the senior Dutch National Team roster.
#7. International power forward Roeland Schaftenaar (211-88, college: Oregon St., currently plays in Greece) was not able to secure a victory for AGOR (13-13) in their game against Kolossos HH (13-13) in the Greek A1.
Schaftenaar scored 5 points.
AGOR was defeated 78-73 on the road by the lower-ranked Kolossos HH (#7).
Schaftenaar's total stats this season are: 5.3ppg, 3.9rpg and 1.1apg.
He is also Dutch national team player.
#8. Center Jito Kok (206-94, agency: Court Side, college: San Diego, currently plays in Estonia) managed to help AVIS UTILITAS Rapla in a victory against the league leader Tartu Ulikool (29-3) 70-60 in the Estonian Alexela KML last Friday.
Kok recorded only 4 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks in 29 minutes.
It was the game of the round between two top 4 ranked teams. AVIS UTILITAS Rapla (20-12) is placed second in the Alexela KML.
This year Kok's total stats are: 5.5ppg and 3.5rpg in 14 games.
He used to play for the Dutch U20 national team
back in 2014.
#9. Former international center Kevin Bleeker (208-93, also represented by Court Side, college: Canisius, currently plays in Spain) couldn't help one of league's weakest teams Navarra (15-15) in their game against Moron (16-14) in the Spanish LEB Silver (third division).
Bleeker scored 7 points, had 9 rebounds and dished 3 assists.
Navarra was edged 81-79 in Morón de la Frontera by the higher-ranked Moron (#8).
There are only three games left until the end of the Regular Season.
Bleeker has averaged so far 6.6ppg and 5.1rpg.
He used to play for the Dutch national team
three years ago.
#10. Forward Kevin van Wijk (203-89, college: Valparaiso, currently plays in Spain) helped Melilla Baloncesto win their game against the 16th-ranked Magia Huesca (10-23) 79-67 in the Spanish LEB Gold (second division) in Friday night's game.
van Wijk scored 11 points in 20 minutes.
Melilla Baloncesto (19-14) is placed sixth in the LEB Gold.
His team will play only one more game in the Regular Season.
van Wijk has averaged so far 6.1ppg, 3.2rpg and 1.1apg in 33 games.
He is a former U16 international player as twelve years ago he still played for the Dutch national team.
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: 6.9ppg, 3.8rpg and 1.1apg in 32 games he played so far.
He has a dual citizenship: Dutch and French.
#2.Aaron Doornekamp (201-F-85, agency: Interperformances, currently plays in Basketball Champions League) was the major contributor in an CB Canarias' victory against the third-ranked Umana Venezia (9-5) 67-58 in the Basketball Champions League last Friday.
Doornekamp recorded 11 points and grabbed 4 rebounds.
Iberostar Tenerife CB Canarias (11-3) is placed first in group D.
Doornekamp has relatively good stats this season: 10.4ppg, 4.7rpg and 2.3apg.
He is another player who holds two passports: Canadian and Dutch.
#3.Ryan Broekhoff (200-F-90, college: Valparaiso, currently plays in VTB United League) managed to help Lokomotiv Kuban in a victory against the 12th-ranked Tsmoki-Minsk (5-19) 81-72 in the VTB United League in Sunday night's game.
Broekhoff scored 5 points and grabbed 5 rebounds in 23 minutes.
Lokomotiv Kuban (19-5) is placed fourth in group A.
It was his team's sixth consecutive victory in a row.
There are only three games left until the end of the VTB United League Regular Season. So now every game will be critical.
This year Broekhoff's overall stats are: 7.8ppg and 5.0rpg in 24 games.
He has both Australian and Dutch nationalities.
#4.Tom Slutsky (193-G-92, currently plays in Israel) contributed to an easy victory against the sixth-ranked Ironi Ramat Gan (4-22) crushing them 114-89 in the Israeli National League (second division) last Friday.
Slutsky recorded 8 points and added 4 passes.
Hapoel Afula (12-14) is placed first in Play-Downs group.
Slutsky has averaged so far 4.5ppg and 1.2rpg.
He also holds two passports: Dutch and Israeli.
Despite Slutsky's Dutch nationality, he previously played for the Israeli U18 national team and is probably not eligible to play for the Dutch team.
Eredivisie Round 2 of Semi-Finals. Zwolle and Groningen post victories - 3 days ago
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Leiden - Zwolle 81-92 Zwolle outgunned Leiden to even the series at 1-1. The game was mostly controlled by Zwolle. Leiden managed to win second period 23-16. But it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. They shot the lights out from three sinking 15 long-distance shots on high 55.6 percentage. Zwolle looked well-organized offensively handing out 22 assists. The best player for the winners was American center Clayton Vette (202-88, college: Winona St., agency: Cour... [read more]
Zwolle outgunned Leiden to even the series at 1-1. The game was mostly controlled by Zwolle. Leiden managed to win second period 23-16. But it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. They shot the lights out from three sinking 15 long-distance shots on high 55.6 percentage. Zwolle looked well-organized offensively handing out 22 assists. The best player for the winners was American center Clayton Vette (202-88, college: Winona St., agency: Court Side) who scored 24 points. The other American import guard JT Tiller (188-88, college: Missouri) chipped in 15 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals. The former international Jessey Voorn (197-90, agency: Court Side) produced 19 points and 5 assists and international forward Mohamed Kherrazi (200-90) added 12 points and 10 rebounds respectively for the hosts. Both teams had five players each who scored in double figures. Top scorers: Leiden: J.Voorn 19+1reb+5ast, R.Jansen 18+3reb+3ast, D.Draper 16+7reb+1ast, M.Kherrazi 12+10reb+2ast, J.Lee 10+2reb+3ast, L.Enobakhare 3+3reb Zwolle: C.Vette 24+4reb+1ast, J.Yoho 18+3reb+2ast, O.Schaftenaar 18+4reb, J.Tiller 15+6reb+7ast, N.Oudendag 10+10reb+2ast, M.Schilder 4+1reb+4ast
Groningen fired past Den Bosch on the road to secure 2-0 lead in the series. The game without a history. Groningen led from the first minutes and controlled entire game increasing their lead in each quarter. They shot 64.2 percent from the field and made 19-of-23 charity shots (82.6 percent) during the game. Groningen had a 28-15 advantage in offensive rebounds. Their players were unselfish on offense dishing 31 assists comparing to just 10 passes made by Den Bosch's players. The game was dominated by American players. Point guard Lance Jeter (191-88, college: Nebraska) orchestrated the victory by scoring 19 points and 6 assists. Forward Chase Fieler (203-92, college: FGCU) contributed with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists for the winners. Five Groningen players scored in double figures. Groningen's coach Erik Braal felt very confident that he used 10 players which allowed the starters a little rest for the next games. Forward Charles Mitchell (203, college: Georgia Tech, agency: Three Eye Sports) replied with 13 points and 7 rebounds and swingman Justin Watts (196-90, college: N.Carolina) added 18 points in the effort for Den Bosch. Top scorers: Den Bosch: J.Watts 18+2reb+1ast, C.Mitchell 13+7reb+1ast, M.Aarts 8+3reb, D.Balentine 8+3reb, R.Pagter Ralf 7+4reb, S.Wessels 4+3reb+1ast Groningen: L.Jeter 19+3reb+6ast, S.Cunningham 14+2reb+4ast, B.Veenstra 11+4reb+1ast, C.Fieler 11+9reb+6ast, A.Smith 10+1reb, J.Dourisseau 10+5reb+2ast
Eredivisie Round 1 of Semi-Finals. Victories for Leiden and Groningen - 6 days ago
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Zwolle - Leiden 82-88 Leiden upset Zwolle in the semifinal series opener. The guests took control from the first minutes by winning the initial quarter 19-17. But Zwolle won second period 23-22. However it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. Leiden made 20-of-25 free shots (80.0 percent) during the game. 25 personal fouls committed by Zwolle helped opponents get some easy free throw opportunities. The former international center Thomas Koenis (210-89, agency: Co... [read more]
Leiden upset Zwolle in the semifinal series opener. The guests took control from the first minutes by winning the initial quarter 19-17. But Zwolle won second period 23-22. However it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening. Leiden made 20-of-25 free shots (80.0 percent) during the game. 25 personal fouls committed by Zwolle helped opponents get some easy free throw opportunities. The former international center Thomas Koenis (210-89, agency: Court Side) fired a double-double by scoring 23 points and 20 rebounds for the winners. The former international Rogier Jansen (188-84, agency: Court Side) chipped in 17 points and 4 assists. American center Clayton Vette (202-88, college: Winona St., agency: Court Side) produced a double-double by scoring 21 points and 11 rebounds and the other American import guard JT Tiller (188-88, college: Missouri) added 19 points and 4 assists (made all of his nine free throws !!!) respectively for lost side. Five Leiden and four Zwolle players scored in double figures. Top scorers: Leiden: T.Koenis 23+20reb+3ast, J.Voorn 19+3ast, R.Jansen 17+2reb+4ast, D.Draper 11+5reb+2ast, M.Kherrazi 10+4reb, F.Versteegh 5+4reb+1ast Zwolle: C.Vette 21+11reb, J.Tiller 19+4reb+4ast, J.Yoho 16+2reb+1ast, N.Oudendag 12+12reb, K.Hyland 5+1reb, O.Schaftenaar 3+3reb
Groningen toppled Den Bosch to grab the lead in the series. The game without a history. Groningen led from the first minutes and controlled entire game increasing their lead in each quarter. They made 16-of-21 charity shots (76.2 percent) during the game. Strangely Den Bosch outrebounded Groningen 42-30 including 30 on the defensive glass. Their players were unselfish on offense dishing 27 assists. Worth to mention a great performance of American forward Chase Fieler (203-92, college: FGCU) who helped to win the game recording 13 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists and 5 blocks. Naturalized American swingman Jason Dourisseau (196-83, college: Nebraska) contributed with 18 points and 7 rebounds for the winners. American forward Charles Mitchell (203, college: Georgia Tech, agency: Three Eye Sports) answered with a double-double by scoring 15 points and 10 rebounds and the other American import swingman Justin Watts (196-90, college: N.Carolina) added 12 points and 7 rebounds in the effort for Den Bosch. Both teams had four players each who scored in double figures. Top scorers: Groningen: J.Dourisseau 18+7reb+2ast, C.Fieler 13+7reb+8ast, D.Pasalic 12+4reb+2ast, A.Slagter 12+3reb+2ast, L.Jeter 9+4reb+7ast, A.Smith 6+3reb+1ast Den Bosch: C.Mitchell 15+10reb+3ast, K.Akerboom 12+5reb, J.Watts 12+7reb+2ast, S.McWhorter 10+3reb+2ast, R.Pagter Ralf 10+7reb+2ast, S.Wessels 7+1ast
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