|06 July 2014|
|Klaziena Guijt will be chasing her dreams in Italy, an adventure which she is hoping will end in a podium finish |
By Joe Hewison
The words ‘Chase your dreams' adorn the right shoulder of Netherlands guard Klaziena Guijt and seem to be at the forefront of her mind and those of her team-mates too.
Netherlands were one of the standout teams of the first round at the U20 European Championship Women with a high octane defensive effort supported by a balanced offence with huge scoring potential.
It is almost as though they are they are taking the phrase literally, tearing across the court in pursuit of victory and never was this more in evidence than during their day two defeat of Belarus.
The ‘Oranje' employed a ruthless full-court press from the first tip and surged into a 35-11 advantage after 10 minutes, Guijt pouring in 15 points.
The press would relent but the intensity didn't and neither did Guijt, finishing with 30 points.
But this is anything but a one-woman show and that is the result of a concerted effort from the team and its coach Johanna Margaretha Bolman-Siderius.
"We have played very well, with a lot of intensity," said Guijt.
"We have played as a team and that is definitely what we want."
This team-first mentality is something that will no doubt benefit Netherlands as they progress through this competition, and as their players look to improve long term.
For opposing teams, it is a case of pick your poison.
Guijt added: "Kourtney Treffers, she is a beast, she grabs rebounds, she scores and makes her runs, it is awesome to play with her.
"Our point guard, Jacobine Klerx, she is the leader of our team. She is a very good leader. Maybe she doesn't score all the points but she is our leader.
"We have Lisanne de Jonge and Isabella Slim outside as well, so we are the three outside, which is very good.
|Guijt, pictured here with Janiek van Veen at the U18 European Championship last season, will return from injury for the second round for Netherlands |
"And we have Janiek van Veen , who is injured at the moment but she will play after the first three games and she is a point guard as well."
With such depth of talent there should be yet more to come from this exciting Netherlands side, and they certainly hope so, with sights set on the final rounds.
"We definitely want to get to the quarter-finals and win the quarter-finals so top four, I hope we will get there," added Guijt.
But that is not to say all is rosy in the ‘Oranje' garden, as a narrow defeat to Poland on day three demonstrated there remains room for improvement.
For 19-year-old Guijt, she is trying to learn from those around her and continue on a development pathway that has seen her represent Netherlands at various youth competitions over the past five years, and more recently taken her to North America.
"The last two years I have played with CTO Amsterdam, an institute in the Netherlands where we practice twice a day so that is why I have really improved," said the dynamic guard.
"I also played in Canada for the last four months at Regina University. It is university ball so it is very different to in my country."
The next step is one she hopes will take her closer to the dream that inspires the ink on her shoulder.
"[Chase your dreams] is my quote. It's my basketball quote.
"I really hope I can play professionally. I am looking for a team at the moment."
If she continues to play her part in Netherlands' pursuit of a top-four place, that search won't take long and she may not even be the one doing the chasing.