Two international windows are in the books and the Netherlands, traditionally not one of the basketball powerhouses are holding their own amongst the best Europe has to offer.
Coach Toon van Helfteren has guided the Dutch to third place in Group D that features Italy, Romania and Croatia and they stand a good chance of progressing to their second phase of FIBA World Cup qualifying.
And van Helfteren is a big fan of the growing exposure that the Netherlands are having in their homeland.
“Oh yes, for sure it’s good,” the veteran play-caller said to FIBA.basketball. “Usually, the FIBA programs for international basketball are in the summer time but summer time is not necessarily basketball time.
“We’ve played in November, in February. Next time is June, almost summertime, but because we have a chance to qualify (for the Second Round), I expect a lot of fans will be there.”
The Dutch began their road to China in November with a 68-61 victory over Croatia in Rotterdam but then fell to Romania 75-68.
February’s windows did not so well, falling to both Italy and Croatia. But one constant in all of the games for the Dutch was the pure excitement in the stands.
“Wherever we play, there is excitement,” Van Helfteren said.
“People are really interested in seeing their national team play. I honestly believe that playing during the season, you have less time to prepare but the games generate interest, a lot of interest. And it’s good.”