The Father On And Off The Court

30 October 2013

EUROCHALLENGE

When the Den Bosch Shoeters open their EuroChallenge account on 5 November against Rakvere Tarvas, Kees Akerboom may not be there. But it is unlikely to have anything to do with form or fitness.

Rather, the 29-year-old could be at his wife's side, welcoming his second child into the world - a child that may one day go on to continue the Akerboom basketball dynasty, one that started back with Kees' father in the seventies.

 

 The Akerboom Dynasty

Kees Akerboom
Kees Akerboom Senior's scoring skills brought him the status of a legend in Den Bosch

Kees Sr. was an instantly recognisable name in European basketball, taking the Netherlands to a seventh-place finish at the 1977 European Championship with a tournament-high 27 points-a-night, including a 38-point haul against Spain.

Despite consistently producing solid stats of his own throughout his career, finishing most seasons hovering about the 10 points-a-night mark, Akerboom Jr. avoids trying to draw comparisons between his own game and that of his father.

"He was a really great player and we always talk about how different it was back then playing basketball and how it is right now.

"It is way more physical, faster and tougher to throw down 30 or 40 points a game like he did sometimes (laughing). It is not really good [to compare us] but we are both good shooters so that is the main comparison I think."

Akerboom proudly revealed that his first child, now 18 months old, also appears to have the family hoops genes, going by the eagerness he already shows at playing at home on a miniature hoop.

But, if he is anything like his own father, Akerboom will not be enforcing the game on his children, rather letting them discover hoops for themselves.

"He (Kees Sr.) never pushed me to get into it.

"I came into contact with basketball through his memoirs when I was six or seven years old.

"[After that] I tried a basketball lesson at school and right after the first lesson I was hooked. After a couple of lessons I never wanted to do anything else."

 

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Looking at Akerboom's career to date, that seems to have been a wise choice with a professional career spanning 13 seasons, the majority of which has taken place for the same club that his father helped put on the map: Den Bosch.

"I like it here because my friends and family are here and I have always been a guy who likes certain stuff and my family is one of those things.

"This is a sport oriented city. They really put a lot of money into the youth and also into different sports and I think because they do that, the rest of the city really like to come to the games and they really support us here."

He also believes the Den Bosch Shoeters can fulfill other wishes he holds: "I always want to be on a team that competes for a championship and I want to play in the EuroChallenge."

"I think it is great to be playing in a European league because it is a different level and you always play a different style and a higher standard."

 

Seeking Wins In Europe

Kees Akerboom, Shoeters Den Bosch
Not afraid to take a shot, Kees Akerboom is trying to pass on this attitude to the younger players on the team

The Dutch international is no stranger to winning, having twice been a Dutch champion, three times a Dutch Cup winner, and, as of September this year, a Dutch Supercup champion.

However, despite experiencing great success on home soil, the winning feeling has proved a little more elusive beyond Dutch borders with the small forward yet to play on a team that has advanced past the Round of 16 in EuroChallenge.

"The last time we played in the EuroChallenge (2010), we did pretty well for a Dutch team. We went to the Second Round and that is always one of our goals, because Holland is not really a great basketball nation and it is always tough for us to compete with [clubs coming from] the strong competitions.

"But we always have good teams here in this city and we always try to compete and I think sometimes we have some good opportunities to win games - for instance we beat Madrid a couple of years ago - and we have beaten other top teams too, but there is just a big difference between the domestic league we are coming from and the domestic leagues of the teams we are coming up against.

"That is something that we have to battle every year."

It is a battle, that Akerboom is determined to win.

"I really want to make it further than the Second Round. We almost did it in 2009. We had to beat Cholet at home [in our final game] and we lost by two.

"We were so close and that really hurt. This year I want to get into that position again."

Of course, in the current financial environment, finding the right mix of players on a restrictive budget goes a long way to determining the success of a club further afield.

But Akerboom is confident that Shoeters have the mix right.

"We have a new coach this year but we have stuck with the same principles and added some things from coaches before and we have a good balanced team right now.

"We have some guys back from two years ago when we won the championship, and we have added some American players and there are a lot of young kids who are really working hard and trying to get into this team. That was not really there before so that's a big adjustment and I think they are ready now."

"The chemistry is pretty good already and that is good for this stage in the season."

 

Father At Home, Father On The Court

On a team championing youth, it naturally falls upon the elder statesman Akerboom to take on a guidance role for the younger generation.

"Some of the kids I have known for a long time and basically my role is telling them to take responsibility at certain moments and that's probably the best advice you can give because sometimes they get the ball and they are wide open and they don't dare to shoot.

"That is one of the moments when you have to say: ‘hey you have to shoot it' because that is the moment when you can knock it down so why don't you shoot it?"


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