|11 December 2012|
|"We had a terrible EuroBasket in 2011. Now we have to learn from all those mistakes," says Maxime De Zeeuw|
Belgium are looking to learn from their past mistakes and relying on the return of Axel Hervelle as they head into EuroBasket 2013 with thoughts of advancing to the second round.
"We proved in previous years that we can compete against the best. For us, it's a great chance to advance," said Belgian international power forward Maxime De Zeeuw.
"We had a terrible EuroBasket in 2011. Now we have to learn from all those mistakes."
The Belgians failed to win a single game in Klaipeda in 2011, losing against Georgia, Bulgaria, Russia, Slovenia and Ukraine.
The Belgians had high hopes going into the tournament in Lithuania after having a strong qualification campaign, which saw them win their group ahead of Georgia, Bulgaria, Poland and Portugal.
One of the biggest problems for head coach Eddy Casteels' team last summer was the leg injury which forced Belgian star Hervelle out of the tournament just days before it started.
"We had an amazing qualification and then struggle a lot. We missed Axel. But now we have that experience."
De Zeeuw said Hervelle's return will be a big help to the team.
"He's a great leader. He's important for us because he's a great player with a great mentality. He's a leader for us. He shows us the way to fight. It's important for us to have him there," said De Zeeuw of the Bilbao Basket power forward, who did not play in Belgium's qualifiers for EuroBasket.
De Zeeuw played a bigger role for Belgium in 2012 with 8.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists. But he's not worried about letting Hervelle return to prominence within the squad.
"I want to play the best I can next year. I will do whatever I can to help my country and be part of this team and help them reach a high level," said De Zeeuw, who moved from Belgian side Verviers-Pepinster to EuroChallenge club Antwerp Giants this off-season.
De Zeeuw said Belgium's chances in Slovenia will depend on getting a hot start in Group A, which features games - in order - against Ukraine, Germany, Great Britain, Israel and France.
"We have to start a competition really well and gain confidence," said the 25-year-old Uccle native.
"I think it's a good group for every team except France, who is better than every team. For Germany, it depends if Dirk Nowitzki is playing or not. Great Britain are a very good team - athletic with star players like Luol Deng and Pops Mensah Bonsu. For Israel and Ukraine, they are about the same level as us. It's just one game and we can beat them."
De Zeeuw said he sees the top two teams in the group being France and Great Britain.
"Third place is going to be between the four other teams. We can make it for sure. We have a really good chance."