Yesterday night, the FIBA Awards Ceremony took place in China. There, the Dutch national team was named one of the most improved teams (2017-2019). Even though the Orange Lions didn’t end up qualifying themselves for the 2019 World Cup, it shows the upward trend for the national team.
Their road to China started all the way in the pre-qualifiers, where they had to get past Austria and Albania to earn an actual spot in the World Cup qualifiers. It almost ended there, as advancing to the qualifiers seemed an impossible task with only the return game against Albania left. To make it to the qualifiers, the Orange Lions would have to beat Albania with at least 49 points. But, the Dutch national team performed a miracle, and won with no less than 99 points difference.
Then, their journey continued in a group phase with Italy, Romania and Croatia as opponents. The team did fine winning three games, with the last one being the most impressive of all: a historic win against powerhouse Italy, 81-66.
The second round proved to be more difficult, as the Netherlands had a lot of close games, but didn’t manage to win any more games. On the upside, they almost beat yet another powerhouse in Lithuania. The Orange Lions only conceded after two overtimes.
So, even though the 2019 World Cup proved to be out of reach, the Netherlands showed that they were in the middle of upward trend. In February 2020, the Orange Lions will start a new journey towards the 2021 European Championship with a new coach, the Italian Maurizio Buscaglia.