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Hard Work and Teamspirit Pays Off With a Bronze Medal

Hard Work and Teamspirit Pays Off With a Bronze Medal

It was three years ago when the Netherlands (Orange Angels) U20 won a medal during the European Championship. Such a wonderful performance by the players and staff who were selected in 2015.

In 2016, the Angels came up short to reach the quarter finals and last year they were ranked 13th. Winning a medal should happen again. Ilse Kuijt, Mia Hordijk, Noor Driessen, Yfke Hoek, Laura Westerik and Katoo Koenen were six players who were also selected last year. New at U20 were Famke Hermans, Rosalie Aandewiel, Julia Jorritsma, Milou Vennema, Lynn Tamis and Noëlle Droste. Laki Lakner became the new coach and with assistant-coach Molly McDowell, the Angels could begin a bright new adventure during the Fiba Women’s European Championship U20 in Sopron.

Game recaps of this year’s tournament

The Angels were classified in group D. Their opponents during the group phase were Belgium, Portugal and Spain. It wouldn’t be easy for the Angels, especially with Spain in their group. Spain really knows what it is to win the European Championship. Nevertheless, the Angels were ready, and Belgium would know that.

Group phase

Belgium was the first opponent of the Angels. They had a really good player in their team: Laure Resimont. In the first quarter she already had 12 points. The Angels had many other players who defended well, attacked the basket really nice and made some crucial shots. The third quarter was outstanding. The Angels won that quarter with 7-26, which was enough to win against Belgium with 59-83. Laura Westerik was with 28 points really strong, also Noor Driessen (18 points) and Ilse Kuijt (16 points) were very important.

The next game was against Portugal. Portugal shot their threepoints so well that the Angels had many problems in the defence during the first half. Especially Ana Rodrigues was shooting the ball so well. She has 25 points in the second game. However, the Angels fought back. They were down by 36-53 during the last eight minutes. At that moment, many threepointers from Kuijt, Westerik and Katoo Koenen brought the Angels back at 55-57. It wasn’t enough, Portugal hit their shots at the right moments. The Angels lost their second game with 57-65.

The last game during the group phase was against Spain. As said, Spain is a very strong team. Nevertheless, the Angels started pretty well. Due to great shots of Famke Hermans and Rosalie Aandewiel, the Angels were taking the lead in the first quarter with 18-25. Not to mention, a great defensive impulse of Lynn Tamis helped the Angels too. During the rest of the game, Spain knew what to do to win the game and won with 79-59. That meant the Angels were ranked third in group D. To reach the quarter finals, the Angels must win against the number two of group C: Latvia.

Photo: Fiba


It was time to play the round of 16: Latvia (number two of group C) against the Orange Angels (number three of group D). A pretty good chance to reach the quarter finals, and so it was at the beginning. The Angels were up by six points. Especially Yfke Hoek was on fire in the first half. After half time it became pretty difficult for the Angels. Latvia showed how to play basketball, but the Angels didn’t give up. There were a lot of special moments they fought back: a nice four point play by Koenen for example or all the threepointers that Julia Jorritsma took. Her threepointers gave the Angels the lead all over again. The Angels were down by six points with two minutes to go. Digna Strautmane was the star player of Latvia who gave her team the lead all the time, but thanks to many drives from Mia Hordijk and Westerik the Angels reached the quarter finals.

The other quarter finals was Russia (number one of group A) against Sweden (number four of group B). Sweden didn’t won a single game in the group phase, but knocked down Russia at overtime. That meant Sweden was the next opponent of the Angels in the quarter finals. The Angels showed Sweden who is in charge. With seven crucial points from Noëlle Droste during the last quarter, it wasn’t a problem anymore to reach the semi-finals. The Angels would face Spain again at the semi-finals. Both teams had some troubles in offense during the game. The Angels fought back, but came up just short in the fourth quarter. The Angels could only win the bronze medal now.

In order to win the bronze medal, the Angels must win against Italy. It was a close game. None of Italy and the Angels couldn’t make a big run. Italy led almost the whole game, until Milou Vennema gave the Angels the lead with her crucial threepointer and midrange jumper. Later on, Laura Westerik was on fire and that’s why Italy couldn’t stop the Angels. After forty minutes of playing, a bronze medal became a fact for the Orange Angels U20 2018. Every single players, the coach, assistant-coach and all the other members of the staff made this happen: a high quality of team spirit!

Noor Driessen and Julia Jorritsma

Noor Driessen. Photo: Fiba

At this year’s tournament, Noor Driessen was one of the players who was selected again. She won the championship in the Netherlands with the Grasshoppers in Katwijk last season and developed herself to a higher level. “The biggest difference between this year’s European championship and last year is that we had a more challenging goal for this year,” according to Driessen. “We wanted to reach the quarter finals, and that’s why we started practicing with a different mindset. I think because of that, we made it this far. For myself, I played with more confidence this year. The game against Latvia had a big impact on me. To be honest, I have never been this nervous before during a basketball game. I felt so relieved when the game clock said 0:00. I will never forget that. But winning the bronze medal and the after party was the most amazing moment.”

Julia Jorritsma. Photo: Fiba

One of the new players is Julia Jorritsma, who played at the Orange Angels U18 last year. As said, she made some crucial threepointers during the game against Latvia. A players who stood up in money time, many times. “The game against Latvia became a real thriller,” Jorritsma said. By winning that game, we reached the quarter finals and not to mention, we reached our goal for this year’s tournament. At the Angels U18 we played in the B division last year. The most important thing is that we always played as a team. We moved the ball well, but also fought for our opportunities when we didn’t play well. Not to mention, we always focused on our own strength, opportunities and our game plan instead of focusing on our opponents, which we did after we knew what kind of offense and defensive plays we could try for ourselves.”

All of this led to a bronze medal, for the second time in three years.

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