Team Profile: Belgian Lions ready to roar on big stage
BRUSSELS (Belgium) - Belgium are set to compete at a fifth consecutive EuroBasket tournament, for the first time in competition history. The Lions made a long-awaited return in 2011 after an 18-year absence and have begun to establish themselves as regular participants at Europe’s flagship event.
The last few years have seen Belgium pull off notable wins in EuroBasket Qualifiers over Lithuania and Czech Republic, as well as a home-and-away double against Serbia in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 European Qualifiers.
The retention of their core group of players has laid the foundations for improved success and the challenge will now be to make their mark on the biggest of stages with several players in their preliminary squad having made multiple appearances at the Final Round.
Maxime De Zeeuw, Pierre-Antoine Gillet, Jonathan Tabu and Kevin Tumba bring vital experience to the team and something that can be an important factor when it comes to dealing with the pressure that is forthcoming.
Veteran forward Maxime De Zeeuw is one of the last links between today's team and that of EuroBasket 2011
Retin Obasohan continues to have a great impact on the international stage for the Belgian Lions, while Ismael Bako is still honing his skills as a crafty big man in Europe with the now 26-year-old set for a far greater role at his second EuroBasket.
However, Belgium are no longer able to call upon the reliable services of Sam Van Rossom. The savvy guard put an end to his long tenure with the national team – spanning over a decade - after retiring during the World Cup Qualifiers in which Van Rossom had averaged 17.0 points per game.
It’s always next person up when it comes to the national team and there are always doors opening with the likes of Haris Bratanovic and Vrenz Bleijenbergh coming through to lead the next generation of talented youngsters.
Belgium only managed one win at FIBA EuroBasket 2017 as their opening 103-90 victory over Great Britain was followed by a run of four straight defeats to miss out on a place in the Round of 16.
The task to make it to the knockout stages is never easy, especially at what is shaping up to be one of the most competitive continental Championships in history, but Belgium are certainly in contention to do so.
Their toughest tests in facing reigning World Cup champions Spain and a strong Turkey side come in the middle of their Group A campaign as they also take on Bulgaria, Montenegro and hosts Georgia, in Tbilisi in games that appear far trickier to call and could prove decisive in the battle to advance.
Belgium have been one of the in-form teams across Qualifiers competitions in the past few years and now it’s about replicating those results at the Final Round. Eddy Casteels was at the helm for their previous EuroBasket appearances in the last decade, and now it’s the turn of Dario Gjergja to make his mark on the big stage with the aim of inspiring a deep run.
IN THE LAST 10 FIBA EVENTS
|2021||Olympics||Tokyo (JPN)||Did not qualify|
|2019||FIBA Basketball World Cup||Beijing (CHN)||Did not qualify|
|2017||FIBA EuroBasket||Istanbul (TUR)||19th|
|2016||Olympics||Rio de Janeiro (BRA)||Did not qualify|
|2015||FIBA EuroBasket||Lille (FRA)||13th|
|2014||FIBA Basketball World Cup||Madrid (ESP)||Did not qualify|
|2013||FIBA EuroBasket||Ljubljana (SLO)||9th|
|2012||Olympics||London (GBR)||Did not qualify|
|2011||FIBA EuroBasket||Kaunas (LTU)||21st|
|2010||FIBA Basketball World Cup||Istanbul (TUR)||Did not qualify|
HOW DID QUALIFY: FIBA EUROBASKET 2022 QUALIFIERS - 1st IN GROUP C (4W - 2L)
|21/02/2020||Belgium v Lithuania||86-65|
|24/02/2020||Denmark v Belgium||72-88|
|27/11/2020||Czech Republic v Belgium||62-90|
|29/11/2020||Lithuania v Belgium||84-71|
|20/02/2021||Belgium v Denmark||88-65|
|22/02/2021||Belgium v Czech Republic||86-91|