|Kourtney Treffers is the leading scorer for the Dutch, averaging a double-double of 18.5 points and 10 rebounds per game|
by Björn-Lars Blank
After getting promoted to Division A of the U16 European Championship Women back in 2009, the Netherlands are defineatly leaving a mark on the 2010 championship in Kozani and Ptolemaida.
Right on the first day of the competition the Dutch pulled off a huge surprise as they beat reigning champions Spain in overtime (71-67). Dutch Head Coach Joris Zandbergen is still very proud of his team. "That was a tremendous effort! We worked hard all 45 minutes long and were able to surprise Spain. I think we have been the team with more stamina. It is always a nice feeling to beat the champion."
While Spain was leading for the most part of the game, his team did not give up and finally closed the gap in the final quarter. With only a few seconds left in regulation, the Netherlands already have been on the brink of landing this sensational victory. But a made jumpshot by Spain's Elena De Alfredo denied them the victory at least for the moment.
The late equalizer did not shock the Dutch. They played a strong extra 5 minutes. Power Forward Kourtney Treffers who had a game high 26 points provided a huge lift for her team. Finally after 45 minutes the surprise was perfect.
After winning against Spain the Dutch had to learn how losing feels like at the U16 European Championship Women. Turkey handed them a 52-65 loss in which the Dutch team was out-paced and out-rebounded.
Zandbergen gave a precise analysis why his team lost the game. "Turkey were more aggressive than we were. They wanted the win more than us. We won and they lost the day before and it's easy to say that doesn't affect you, but it actually did. Usually we are a good rebounding team, today we did a lousy job in rebounding. We also gave them too many opportunities to run."
With one win and one loss respectively, what is the outlook for the Netherlands in this tournament?
"We are new in the Division A so first of all we want to stay in this division." Zandbergen says. "Our goal is also to develop our players. It is a great experience for the players to participate in the U16 European Championship Women. Of course we also want to reach the next round if we can."
The game versus Poland will show if they can. In an exciting third day of action in Group C still anything can happen. All four teams have a 1-1 record meaning the race for a spot in the Qualification Round is wide open.
The Dutch team is hoping to get there. On their way they sure can count on the support of their fans. About 50 Dutch supporters, mostly parents and relatives of the players, follow them to their games in Kozani and Ptolemaida. The fans are delighted by the way their team played so far. Just like the players they are hungry for more now. "The goal was to stay in the Division A. But if you can beat Spain you can also beat all the others" one of the supporters said.
Whether the Dutch reach the next round or not, it is already clear that they left an impact on the U16 European Championship Women. They stay grounded in order to accomplish their primary goal however. Zandbergen "The win over Spain doesn't mean anything if we lose against Poland."