Netherlands: Spinks - future is bright for Astronauts

02.03.2005

By Doug Booth, PA International

When Demon Astronauts Amsterdam forward Joe Spinks claims he is going Dutch it doesn't necessarily mean he wants to pay his share of the bill.

For the US-born import, a big reason why the Astronauts rocketed into the last 16 of this season's FIBA Europe League, is planning to make his stay in the Netherlands more permanent.

Perhaps limits should be put on foreigners in Europe because it is hurting the domestic league
Joe Spinks

Spinks has twice applied for Dutch nationality but on each occasion his application has been rejected.

Now he plans to go back to school to improve his knowledge of the Dutch language so his chances of gaining a Netherlands passport are enhanced.

"I want to re-apply so the club are organising Dutch classes for me," said the 32-year-old Spinks, who hails from North Carolina.

There is a chance he could be studying with Ajax's South American soccer stars, such as Brazil midfielder Maxwell.

"We like being in Amsterdam, it feels like home," The city also holds fond memories for his wife, Dawn.

"We married seven years ago and the city was the first place in Europe we settled," said Spinks, who has played for the past 11 seasons on the continent.

Although disappointed at losing to Israel's Strauss Iscar Nahariya over two legs of the best-of-three last 16 match in the FIBA Europe League, Spinks was delighted at how the Astronauts performed.

Amsterdam lost 76-65 in Israel and 93-87 at home but Spinks and fellow American Teddy Gipson showed plenty of fighting spirit.

Spinks grabbed a total of 26 rebounds and Gipson scored 47 points over the two matches.

I

Spinks has been a force on the boards for Amsterdam this season
n Europe, Spinks averaged 15.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per game while Gipson averaged 18 and 3.9.

"The goal at the start of the year was to qualify for the play-offs so I believe it has been a great year for us," said Spinks.

"Teddy has re-signed for next season and Amsterdam want me back. It makes the decision easier with Teddy, and his brother Tony, here," he said.

But Spinks is also concerned that many European clubs could be harming their potential with the number of foreign players on their books.

"We have six players from outside the Netherlands on our roster and it must be having an effect," he said.

Spinks is particularly worried about the limited opportunities that Amsterdam-born guard Jeremy Ormskerk has had with the Astronauts this summer.

Ormskerk, 22, has only averaged 6.4 minutes in 14 European outings for the club but Spinks believes he has a lot more to offer.

"I have known him since he was 14 and I believe he has the chance to be really special," he said.

"Jeremy has turned down the chance to go to college in the States to try to make it in his own country but his chances have been limited.

"Perhaps limits should be put on foreigners in Europe because it is hurting the domestic league.

"Dutch basketball fans want to see Dutch players on the court."

Spinks said Ormskerk's potential shone through when the Astronauts pipped BC Khimki by a point in Moscow in November.

"He was on the court for his shooting and to see him experience victory in crunch time was special," said Spinks.


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