Belgium go with experience for EuroBasket 2015 team
BRUSSELS (EuroBasket 2015) - Following a meticulous selection process, Belgium head coach Eddy Casteels has announced a 12-strong final roster replete of seasoned veterans to represent the nation at EuroBasket 2015 in September.
Axel Hervelle, the 32-year-old star power forward who led the national team in scoring and rebounds at both EuroBasket 2013 and last summer's Qualification Round campaign, headlines the Belgian squad for the upcoming showcase event.
Influential point guards Sam Van Rossom and Jonathan Tabu, who are set to carry the heavier load in the backcourt, are both gearing up for their third consecutive EuroBasket tournament.
Forwards Wen Mukubu, Jean-Marc Mwema and Maxime De Zeeuw as well as Quentin Serron have also been included in the final Belgian roster, raising the number of returnees from the EuroBasket 2013 squad to seven players.
Roel Moors, Christophe Beghin, Guy Muya, Sacha Massot and Yannick Driesen are the five players who had represented Belgium at EuroBasket 2013 and will not return this year, as the first four have in the meantime retired from the national team or from basketball altogether.
Meanwhile 34-year-old Lionel Bosco, who had missed out both times that Belgium made the big tournament in 2011 and 2013, is finally to make his long-awaited EuroBasket debut this September as coach Casteels chose him over 20-year-old Emmanuel Lecomte for the role of third point guard.
Matthew Lojeski, who had picked up an injury during the last days of preparations for EuroBasket 2013 and was forced to pull out, as well as Pierre-Antoine Gillet, Jean Salumu and Kevin Tumba are also set to taste a EuroBasket tournament for the first time in their career.
The Belgian coaching staff made the decision to pick the 24-year-old Tumba, who made his senior international debut in last summer's 2nd Qualification Round, ahead of fellow up-and-coming center Khalid Boukichou.
"He [Tumba] started playing basketball quite late and he is aware of this deficit," Jacques Stas, who is an assistant of Casteels on the national team as well as the head coach of Spirou Charleroi, explained the selection.
"He is passionate, he listens to advice and it doesn't matter if he plays thirty seconds, three minutes or thirty minutes, he feels the joy of participation all the same and shows the same commitment.
"We use him as a rim protector and want him to intimidate and rebound, he has this capacity to always go for the ball with both hands.
"He obviously has room for improvement, he will work on the fundamentals and learn to post up, already the EuroBasket will help him go up one level."
The Belgians enjoyed a two-day break from training camp on Monday and Tuesday and will gather on Wednesday to travel to France, where they will face Georgia and the hosts in warm-up games.
The 12 men of coach Casteels will commenced their EuroBasket Group D campaign in Riga against hosts Latvia on 5 September and will then take on Estonia, Lithuania, Czech Republic and Ukraine.
Belgium final roster for EuroBasket 2015: Matthew Lojeski, Lionel Bosco, Maxime De Zeeuw, Pierre Antoine Gillet, Axel Hervelle, Jean-Marc Mwema, Wen Mukubu, Jean Salumu, Quentin Serron, Jonathan Tabu, Kevin Tumba and Sam Van Rossom.
Go to eurobasket2015.org for complete coverage of EuroBasket 2015.