EUROBASKET WOMEN QUALIFIERS
|The Netherlands will go up this summer against Lithuania, like in 2010, only this time Myrthe Beld is confident the result will be different |
By Paul Nilsen
Myrthe Beld is one of the players who can evaluate just how the Netherlands have evolved since they made their encouraging elite-level debut less than two years ago.
Back in 2010, the Dutch team stepped out in Division A for the first time during a failed but nevertheless impressive first EuroBasket Women qualification campaign.
The Division A and B format have since been scrapped, but the Dutch point guard can nonetheless evaluate the progress made, especially since they will face some familiar faces this summer.
"I am really looking forward to the qualification games with the national team. We play against both Lithuania and Belgium again but I think I like that," explained Beld.
"Lithuania is a strong team but I am really curious to see how we will play against them this year.
"When we played against them the first time, it was a level too high for us but now we can compare and see if we have improved.
"It will be hard to play against these teams but I think we will really see a change.
"During the last qualification we played okay. It was normal that we lost some games in the last few minutes since it was the first time that we played in Division A and you could see it was hard for us.
"Nevertheless, I think we did a good job and we surprised a lot of people. We can build it up now so we will be even better this year.
"The realistic ambition is to qualify for EuroBasket Women 2013," continued the guard.
"It will be hard for us and we have to practice hard. But, during the last few years we have been playing better and better.
"So I really do hope that we will make it to France!"
Beld branched out last summer and broadened their horizons by moving away from home.
She made the short hop over the border to Germany - something she feels has benefited her even if the team didn't find success.
|Naomi Halman is one of those Dutch players who, just like Beld, have ventured abroad to play in other European leagues and bring valuable experience to the national team |
"I really liked it in Germany at the Royals. It was the first time that i practiced and played as a professional. I really enjoyed it," she said.
"I went to the Royals because it always was a top team in Germany and but we actually ended up last so it was totally different from what I expected and that was too bad.
"But, I have learned a lot during the last year not only in a basketball sense but also mentally too and I really like playing as a professional. The level in Germany is a lot higher than in Holland."
"A lot of girls from the national team played last season in other countries to improve themselves and this is also positive for our team.
Like so many teams in qualifying this summer, Netherlands will place a sizeable emphasis on young talent as they slowly but surely begin to reap the rewards of a successful youth programme in addition to players getting to sample club basketball around Europe - a fact not lost on Beld.
"I think a lot more other young players will have an important role this summer. Other young players have also played in other countries and next year there will be even more of us."
"This is why the level from our national team will be higher. The youth selections of the Netherlands are doing a great job at European Championship level and so there are some good young Dutch players coming up behind us all now."
Even at just 22 years old and a relative newcomer herself at this level, Beld is shrewd enough to recognize the advantages of an energetic and young team but also the necessity to grow in stature - something which can often happen during the difficult times in games.
"We have a young team and so we can play with a lot of passion. We work hard and want to play quickly.
"Also, if we are behind by 20 points in a game, we will never give up!
"We are young so we have to learn from every game what we can do different in the next games we play."
The biggest concern for Beld right now however is simply getting herself onto the floor as she seeks to shrug off a worrying muscle injury.