Every opponent has to brace themselves. She can shoot high percentages from beyond the arc. She has been playing basketball in Landsmeer for a couple of years, became champion of the highest Under 20 league in The Netherlands and played for the national team as well. Let’s meet Lies van Straaten!
Can you introduce yourself?
I am 19 years old, living in De Meern nearby Utrecht. I am a quite enthusiastic and positive girl.
When did you start playing basketball?
Basketball wasn’t my first choice. I wanted to play hockey, but I had to wait more than a year to join a team. My parents thought that I had to do something else before I would play hockey. So I thought what to do. My three options were handball, basketball and snowboarding. The last option didn’t work out. Everyone said to me that I am pretty tall, so why wouldn’t I choose for basketball? So when I became 10 years old, I started playing basketball and already felt pretty comfortable.
Did some of your other family members play basketball before?
No, definitely not. My parents used to play tennis, and my oldest brother plays water polo on a pretty high level. My younger brother plays baseball. So we all used to do different kinds of sport.
Where have you played basketball?
I started at S.V.O., a local organization in Utrecht in De Meern. My first practice at a different organization looked pretty easy. I could join practice at a Thursday evening. My coach saw a lot of potential of my style of playing, so he said to my parents that I may be not happy if I would stay here because I could play I higher level of basketball. The same evening, I visited S.V.O. From there, it went only better and better. Later on, I moved to Uball in Utrecht, where I played for about 4 or 5 seasons. After that, Uball didn’t organized competitions for girls anymore, so I started asking myself where to play now. Fortunately, Landslake Lions in Landsmeer said that I could join their team. Right now, I am still playing for Landslake Lions.
What do you enjoy about basketball?
Being in a team together feels so special. You need to have faith in each other, and not to forget, winning games with each other. I also saw pretty much progression each year.
What kind of player are you?
I am more an all-rounder. Last season I played as a guard a couple of times, or as a forward and also at center. I like to know what it is to play on all those positions. It is not that I specialize myself at one position. I’d rather to play more like a small forward, and I want to be better and better on that kind of position.
What do you want to improve?
I have a pretty good outside shot, which I certainly want to improve more. My drives can be better and stronger, especially mentally stronger. I also want to be more quick and flexible.
Is there someone who inspires you?
Not really, but of course my family always supported me in everything I do. So if I would choose, then I will choose my parents.
What are your hobbies besides basketball?
I love to hang out with my friends, especially to eat somewhere with my friends. And of course to go where we are right now, shooting this interview; nearby the water, because I love to sail.
At young age you already played at the highest league of The Netherlands at Loon Lions. How was it for you to play that kind of level already?
I realized pretty late. But overall, I was pretty excited. I played against players I looked up to, and then you get the opportunity to show them what you have as a girl of 17. Those thoughts made me enjoy it.
How have you been a better player since you play on the highest level?
I think I went mentally stronger, within and off the court. On court I can make from different players one team, and make my team mates play as a team. I like to motivate my team mates a lot. Overall, I think I became more all-rounder.
Last year you were selected for the national team under 18. How was it for you to play for the national team?
Really awesome! I love to play with ‘Nederland’ on my shirt. I realized by yourself ‘I made it.’ I always said to myself ‘Lies, you have to enjoy this moment and keep having faith in yourself.’ When I have faith in myself, things will always work out.
During season 2017-2018 you reach the championship with Landslake Lions at the highest under 20 league. During the season your team ended on the 4th spot, but made it to the top during the Final Four. How do you look back on that season?
It was a really nice season, with of course some ups and downs. Many of my teammates said that I am always positive. I always had faith in my team, even though we had to face the number one Royal Eagles at the Final Four twice. With the help of coaches Brian Hirman and Laki Lakner, we managed to qualify ourselves to the Finals of the Final Four and beat Almonte in the Finals. You see, as underdog you can make many special moments.
Is there a moment during your career you won’t forget anymore?
What I will never forget is visiting the under 15 camp in Slovenia. I visited that camp along with Kiki Fleuren. I enjoyed that so much and I also received a letter that I got selected as talented girl. Later on, I joined the all-star team. I will never forget such memories.
Last summer, the Fiba 3×3 World Cup was held in Amsterdam. What do you think about 3×3 basketball?
I really like that kind of playing basketball. I think 3×3 can be big, or is already a big item in The Netherlands. It is pretty quick, more physical and with a lot of music and entertainment around the court. But at this moment, I will choose for 5×5 basketball.
Do you have the ambition to play somewhere outside of The Netherlands
Yes, however, sometimes I think yes let’s do it and sometimes I still doubt about it. I still have my school here in The Netherlands. Nevertheless, when I have the opportunity to combine playing basketball and studying somewhere outside of The Netherlands, then I will certainly go for that.
What do you want to achieve in The Netherlands?
Getting some medals, and motivate children to follow their dreams and always work hard to achieve those dreams and goals.