The Dutch basketball men have ended the first window of the qualification cycle for the 2023 World Cup with two narrow defeats. On Friday they lost 77-79 to Iceland in Almere, on Monday night Italy narrowly avoided a Dutch stunt in Milan: 75-73.
By: Martin Hoekstra
To advance to the next qualification round, the Netherlands needs to be among the first three. With two defeats, however small, it does not look rosy yet for the Orange Lions. In both games, there was a phase when the Netherlands took the lead in the last quarter, but both times it went wrong in the same way: losing the ball and an offensive rebound for Italy.
Fact is that the Orange Lions showed a better side against Italy than against Iceland. Shane Hammink was the man with the hot hand. Even a shot from just over the halfway line fell through the net at the end of the first quarter. With five threes, Hammink signed for 19 points.
Roeland Schaftenaar, who did not play against Iceland, had a great game with a few nice inside scores. Keye van der Vuurst de Vries had 7 assists against Iceland, but did not score. This time the young Dutchman signed for 8 assists and 4 points versus Italy.
In February, the race continues for the Orange Lions with a doubleheader against Russia (February 24 away and February 27 at home). Incidentally, small defeats at the end can still be quite important. In case of a tie, the mutual results are taken into account and the Netherlands is still in a good position in that respect.