The Netherlands will be represented for the first time at the 2016 edition of the Bucharest Challenger, just like Greece. Holland has barely finished celebrating the fantastic performance acquired by its own players at the mid- June 3×3 Basketball World Championship in France. Having never achieved significant results at any 5×5 basketball major tournaments, but with a keen desire to perform well in team-sports outside the football field, the Netherlands has crafted a national strategy. The Federation started to invest heavily in 2007 in several projects dedicated to children and young players, promoting the Peanutbasketball – a slightly different version of 3×3 basketball. Ten years later, the reward came as a silver medal at the 3×3 World Cup, won by Jesper Jobse, Joey Schelvis, Sjoerd Van Vilsteren and Bas Rozendaal, at the end of a final lost to the unbeatable Serbians – Bulut, Savic, Zdero and Majstorović.
Three of world’s silver medalists will be taking the court in Bucharest: Jasper – “the guy who gets the Job(se) done”, Joey Schelvis and the big Bas. The fantastic story of the Dutch superheroes began in Bucharest, back in 2016 – in the early days of September, when the boys won the first medal in the history of Dutch basketball – a bronze at the European Championship. Suddenly, on the basketball field, a tale about the Flying Dutchman was being written. In both European and World Championships, the Dutchmen’s road was blocked by Serbia and “Bullet” & Co.
Yet, while the silver medal at the World Cup was without doubt the highlight of thier careers for Jobse and his crew, it was also their last moment of glory this season. Because after a shy 4th place finish in the next tournament, the boys from Amsterdam did not manage to make it anymore: they ended with a 15th place at the Lipik Challenger in Croatia, then came two consecutive 7th places – at the European Championship and at Sibiu Challenger, on Romanian soil.
Key Player: Bas Rozendaal
Talking about a team that has performed amazingly in the last 12 months, it’s hard and a little unfair to choose the key player. Jesper Jobse is the 3×3 number one player in the Netherlands, according to the points earned in the official FIBA World Rankings and he often manages to take the breath away from both opponents and spectators in the stands, with his insane races towards the panel. However, the Big Bas impresses even more on the field, from his solid 213 centimeters height. Add the classic one–handed dunks that he seems to be able to access whenever he likes, with an overwhelming ease, and some highlights from the World Cup final – where Bas was face to face with the “Bullet” Bulut, and you might just have gathered enough arguments for “Bas’ run”.
The Amsterdam team is, however, walking deeper and deeper into unknown territories: it is already a favorite in any the tournaments it might enter, it makes for a great talking point among fans and it has a large target stuck on the back by its opponents. Thus, Amsterdam’s first run at the Raiffeisen Bank Bucharest Challenger and its return to the city of previous European glory registered with the national team keeps things interesting at Bucharest Challenger.