By Jeff Taylor
|BC Oostende's Quentin Serron celebrating having just made his important 3-point shot in the third-place game at the EuroChallenge Final Four |
There was not a more telling moment at the EuroChallenge Final Four than when 21-year-old Quentin Serron got off the bench for the first time and checked into the game for BC Oostende against Spartak Saint-Petersburg in Sunday's battle for third place.
The 3,000-strong crowd erupted as one of their own, a Belgian, ran onto the floor.
Then there was the buzz that shot through the Sleuyter Arena when Serron drilled a three-pointer to knot the contest at 64-64 at the end of the third quarter.
"I thought," he said smiling, "it was going to go out but it went in, so I was happy."
Serron, a valuable reserve for Oostende this season as they coped with some injury problems, had five assists to go with the three-ball.
He was the only Oostende defender, in fact, to visibly irritate Spartak scoring machine Henry Domercant.
Oostende, despite a 33-point explosion from Domercant - points scored when he wasn't being guarded by Serron - won the game 94-92 in overtime.
"This has been a great experience," Serron said.
"It's my first time in Europe and it was great that we made it to the Final Four, despite losing the first game."
That was a 79-65 defeat on Friday to KRKA Novo Mesto, the eventual winners of the competition.
Serron was one of just two Belgians to feature for Oostende over the weekend, the other being veteran center Tomas Van Den Spiegel.
While the latter has done it all in Europe, including winning the Euroleague with CSKA Moscow and playing on the Belgium team last summer that qualified for EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania, Serron is at the start of his career.
Serron has worn the Belgium shirt at U16, U18 and U20 European Championships.
Last summer, he was with Belgium Under-20 side in Division B in Austria, averaging 9.6 points, 2.4 assists and 4.3 rebounds in 23.7 minutes per game.
Israel's national team coach, Arik Shivek, the boss of Belgian club side Dexia Mons-Hainaut, was in Ostend to watch the Final Four.
He saw Serron play on Sunday.
Shivek was reminded on Tuesday about the roar of the crowd when Serron entered the game.
He offered a realistic perspective.
"As a player, he's a very, very good defender, a very good shooter and as a young Belgian guy, for sure he is a young player they can invest in. But he still has a long way to go before he can be a good player for the Belgian first division. As a Belgian player, for sure there is no doubt. He's a good talent."
As for the potential of Serron playing for national team coach Eddy Casteels at the EuroBasket in Lithuania this summer?
"I'm almost sure he will be one of the candidates Eddy will consider for the 16 players (preliminary squad)," Shivek said.
For his part, Serron said it was a memorable weekend, even though Oostende had not won the title.
"I got a lot of support from the fans," he said.
"It's really nice because it gives you a boost.
"I'm just trying to bring energy to the team, do my best on defense and take my shot when I'm open.
"I did feel comfortable out there and tried to do my best."
This is going to be a big summer for Belgium, who haven't been to Final Round of a EuroBasket for a very long time.
"It's going to be good for Belgium basketball," Serron said.
"I hope we'll do good things there."
Oostende fans, and Serron himself, will have to wait and see if he makes it to the Belgium squad.
"You always hope," he said.
"I'm always going to keep working and if I get my chance, I'll do my best.
"I just want to keep improving every year, win championships and other things."