Dutch Host 4-Team Wheelchair Basketball Tournament

19 Aug 2011 By IPC

The Netherlands’ men’s Wheelchair Basketball team will use this weekend’s Tournament Papendal as a tune-up for September’s European Championships in Nazareth, Israel.

The Dutch will host Belgium, France and Sweden at Papendal, the National Sports Centre of the Netherlands, for a three-day long tournament beginning on Friday (19 August).

“To play these kinds of teams in preparation for the European Championships will be good for us,” said the Netherlands’ head coach, Gertjan van der Linden.

Van der Linden, who won gold as an athlete at the Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games, has built up the Netherlands’ young squad since he took over the reigns in 2006, and he believes this is the best team he has had yet.

The Dutch failed to qualify for the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, but recently were promoted from Europe’s ‘B’ division to the ‘A’ division, and now have a shot at qualifying for London 2012.

Van der Linden said the top six teams from Europe will qualify for the Paralympic Games, and that there are 10 to 11 squads who could be worthy next year.

The Netherlands, meanwhile, has not defeated France or Sweden in three years, and the Dutch want to change that this weekend on their home court.

They will be led by guard Mustafa Korkmaz this weekend. Their top forward/centre, Koen Jansens, will not be joining the team until the European Championships next month, as he is currently living in Australia and it is too far for him to travel for just three days.

The rest of the Dutch squad is hungry for action, though, and one can tell that by just listening to their coach.

“After three years of losing, we hate it. So, now it’s time to win,” van der Linden said.

“We are focused now to make it for London. We have nothing to lose because we are just now in the ‘A’ group, so we can play with an open mind.”

Here’s a complete schedule of this weekend’s tournament:

Friday (19 August)

18:00 Sweden-France

20:30 Netherlands-Belgium

Saturday (20 August)

11:30 France-Belgium

14:00 Sweden-Netherlands

18:30 Sweden-Belgium

21:00 Netherlands-France

Sunday (21 August)

10:30 Third-place game

13:00 First-place game