Donar and Landstede Hammers cannot afford a second defeat in the semi-finals of the Dutch play-offs in the BNXT League on Thursday. Both teams will have to go full steam ahead against Heroes Den Bosch and Zorg en Zekerheid Leiden to prevent the numbers one and two from ending up on match point and finish things off next Saturday.
By: Rob de Keijzer & Martin Hoekstra
Photo: Christian Aarts
Donar Groningen – Heroes Den Bosch (0-1)
With an incomplete squad, Heroes Den Bosch still managed to win against Donar Groningen on Tuesday night. The effort on both sides was high, and especially in Den Bosch’s case, with the smaller squad, this could cost the team in the coming games. Whether that will be the case remains to be seen. Edon Maxhuni said after the game that, as a team, they will do everything to keep this series as short as possible.
With 22 points, Maxhuni was also the big man for Heroes Den Bosch in this first game. The home team had four players in double figures, Donar had two, of whom Amanze Egekeze was the most scoring with 12 points. The game started a bit quiet on both sides, until halftime only three free throws were taken, but as the end approached the duels became fiercer and the real play-off atmosphere emerged. A battle under the basket between Donte Thomas and Mohamed Kherrazi resulted in a U and a T for Thomas and a T for Kherrazi. The former could therefore leave the sports hall.
The question is whether Donar will have an answer to the game of Heroes Den Bosch in the second game. Matthew Otten is always talking about the agreement ‘protect our homecourt’, but the team sometimes fails to do so, witness the first game against Aris Leeuwarden in the quarterfinals.
Donar will have to drastically reduce the number of turnovers on Thursday. Heroes Den Bosch scored 25 points from turnovers. Under the boards Heroes Den Bosch was also lord and master, witness the 44 points in the paint against 26 on the Groningse side. On the other hand, the question is whether Heroes Den Bosch can keep up the physical game and drag the victory out of MartiniPlaza. If it can, the team will make a good step towards the finals; if not, it could be a very exciting close series.
Landstede Hammers Zwolle – Zorg en Zekerheid Leiden (0-1)
Two incomplete formations took on each other Tuesday night in Leiden and it remains to be seen whether Landstede Hammers and Zorg en Zekerheid Leiden can start the second game on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. with more manpower.
Landstede Hammers can use every bit of support it can get to bring the series back into balance, just like last season. To start with, the number of turnovers must be limited. Landstede had 16 turnovers (twice as many as Zorg en Zekerheid Leiden) and that led to 20 Leiden points. A vein of problems was the rebound. Zorg en Zekerheid Leiden grabbed 11 offensive rebounds, Landstede seven.
Defensively, Landstede Hammers could do better. The way Maarten Bouwknecht and Jhonathan Dunn in particular got away from their defenders and were able to score relatively easily should not be seen in this phase of the season. Offensively, Noah Dahlman was not in the mix. With 7 points, 6 rebounds and 6 turnovers, he scored an efficiency rating of 5 and that is way too low. The same goes for Ralf de Pagter, Thorir Thorbjarnarson and Mike Schilder also underperformed. Naba Echols and Dragos Diculescu can look back on a good game, but you can’t buy that if you don’t win.
Zorg en Zekerheid Leiden, with surprising starter Lucas Kruithof, played a solid game. Good shot percentages were combined with a lot of pressure on the ball. It remains to be seen if fatigue will play a role. Coach Geert Hammink was able to keep Asbjørn Midtgaard, one of his most important assets, on the sidelines for a long time. Only Dunn made more than 30 minutes on Tuesday night.