Bo Lisa Kramer was one of the players who won the gold medal at the World Cup Wheelchair basketball in Hamburg last week. It was the first gold medal at a World Cup in the Dutch basketball history. Kramer got 9 points, 13 rebounds and 4 assists in the final. Now, they’re over the moon with their medal, but the team, and Kramer, never fail to look forward at the ultimate goal, the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
How did you prepare for the tournament?
Our official preparation for the World Cup started on June 1st, but actually, we starting our preparation the day after the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro 2016. The end goal for everything we do are the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. This World Cup is a part of that preparation for us.
Of course, we’ve had a different preparation in relation to how we have practiced in past year. We have played a lot of exhibition games in countries as the United States, England and Germany. We’ve played a strong exhibition tournament with stacked teams in the Netherlands, the Dutch Battle. This way, we’ve practiced several times against every strong opponent and we were optimally prepared for this World Cup.
You’ve played a good tournament defensively and the team even held Great Britain to a field goal percentage of 31% in the Final. Have you practiced a lot on defense, or do you force the FG% of the opponents?
I think you can say both. We have work very hard on our way of defense as a team and this tournament has shown that this has paid off. We just want to enforce that no shot from the opponent is an open shot. And no, you can’t always prevent that, but if that’s your aim, we have proven that it can be the case for 80% of the shots. We did the same against Great Britain, which means that they’ve hardly taken shots where they were really completely open. One, this will be in your head, and two, shooting under pressure is just harder. I think that’s why their shot percentage was also quite low.
When did you realize you were on your way to gold?
That’s a difficult question if you ask me. After we won the group game against Australia, one of the opponents that was a contender for the medals before the tournament, we had hope, but we were still very wary. We beat them with 30 points and that was really good.
However, we were very open to each other: ‘Girls we can win gold here, but that means that everything has to be right, that we have to fight every game and have to focus on the team and on no one else. And that’s really not a very easy task. We have continued to focus on our defense. If we don’t score, because our offense isn’t going that well, but the opponent doesn’t score either as we’re defending well, there not a very big problem. That’s what we put our confidence in, our defense.
Who did you expect to be the most difficult opponents?
Australia and Great-Britain, and of course Germany as they are still our rival.
Which game was ultimately the most difficult?
For me personally, it was the final. I was very nervous and had some difficulty to find my rhythm in the offense, where I did find my rhythm in the previous games. Fortunately, I had very strong teammates who have done an excellent job so we still walked away with the victory. As a team, I think we’ve shown the least of our own style of play against Canada in the group phase. We won the game, but it could’ve been with a difference of 30 more points if you ask me.
You’ve now won the World Cup for the first time. How important is this victory for you?
I think it’s super important, this is what I’ve been practicing hard for, for the last four years. Day in, day out. The fact that you’re allowed to hang a gold medal around your neck will only ensure that my motivation, insofar it wasn’t already 200%, has now definitely risen to 400%.
The fact that there’s still so much potential in this team, but that we’ve already won gold, promised a lot of good things for the future. I can’t wait to start practicing again in two weeks and make sure we’ll get better every day. Individually, but also certainly as a team.
What’s the role of Gertjan van der Linden for the team?
Gert is our coach and he was the best wheelchair basketball player in the world. His insights in the game ensures that we get better every day and can also learn from each other every day. He has a solution for everything and that ensures that we can always surprise (the opponents). In addition, he helped to ensure that we were really one team on the court, where fun had to be the most important. Not to forget that Irene Sloof can’t be missed as an assistant. A golden couple, now literally!
How are you as a team supported by NOC*NSF?
NOC*NSF ensures that we can run our program as it is right now. Which means that there’s a fulltime training program available, with all the facilities that you can wish for. Without this (financial) support, we would never have achieved this golden medal and therefore, I think that deserve a ‘thank you very much for everything’.
The Olympics in Tokyo are getting closer. What will your road to the Paralympics be like now?
We will be getting better each day, and we are going to make sure that we will get better, as there so much more possible. For now, we’re going to work towards the 2019 European Championship, where the qualification moment for the games takes place. After that, we’ll fully focus on the 2020 Games, as far as that’s not already happening.
Which country is, for now, your biggest competitor for Olympic Gold?
Great Britain, they have a team that has been playing together for so long and it’s a team with a lot of potential. Besides that, they are also very young, the fact that this was their first final appearance says enough, and I think we should keep an eye on them on our way to Tokyo.
In 2016, you were one of the youngest players in Rio. Now you have two more years of experience. Is your road to the Olympics different now?
For sure, definitely that I’m now a starter, and I went to Rio as a bench player. This of course, makes a difference, but ultimately ensures that I’m even looking more forward to it. I now know what awaits me at the Games, so in that sense I can prepare myself better than how I did for Rio.
I’m just really looking forward to it, but I also know it’ll take another two years and that I will continue to fight for two years, day in and day out, to be the best in Tokyo, both individually and with my team.
How will you make sure it will be Gold this time?
We will have to continue the upward trend we have shown this year. What it will bring us in Tokyo can’t be said now, but what I can say with certainty is that, we as a team will do EVERYTHING to be as strong as possible there.