Not reassuring in preparation with only one victory in six games, Belgium arrived without any guarantee and, even worse, without their leader and historical leader, Sam Van Rossom.
But after defeating host nation Georgia (deprived of star Tornike Shengelia) in overtime in the first game, thanks to a 3-point shot from the most capped player in their history, Jonathan Tabu, the Lions then managed the feat of bringing down Spain for their third game (83-73).
What to point with a quadruple equality at the top of Group A with two victories for a defeat, and to consider a qualification in the round of 16.
“All these years, we qualified thanks to our defense”says veteran Tabu on the FIBA website. “That’s how we play. We don’t have many players 2m13 or more, we’re not that tall. But we have heart! We have to play hard every time. “
Led by Dario Gjergja, the Croatian coach eleven times champion of Belgium with Ostend, the Lions are currently honoring their nickname by authorizing 75 points on average to their opponent. A demanding and passionate trainer, Coach Gjergja has so far found the right fuel.
“The days when we were happy to participate in the Euro are over”
“If you get high on the pitch, everything will be fine, he will love you”smiles Jean-Marc Mwema. “He is very emotional and determined. If you give her the same energy, you will have a good relationship [avec lui]. But the time when we were happy to participate in the Euro is over, we are here to compete and earn the respect of the big teams. “
After their sad 19th place at the last EuroBasket in 2017, Belgium have already done better with two victories, but the teammates of future Asvel player Retin Obasohan (15 points, 3 rebounds, 2 average assists) do not want not stop in such a good way with their mix of powerful and fast rears (Manu Lecomte in the lead, with 13 points and 4 assists per game) and their athletic racket, with Ismael Bako (8 points, 6 rebounds, 1 against) notably.
With Turkey on the menu today, a team still shaken by its incident with Georgia, then Bulgaria (still in the hood) to finish, Belgium has the opportunity to improve its ranking and afford an affordable round of 16 . To catch a glimpse of lands still unknown on the horizon… Perhaps facing France for that matter.
“Lionel Bosco was there for my first training camp with the selection. He was defending on me off-road. I remember how hard he played. The veterans who are with us now have clearly set the tone to make defense our hallmark.”assures Retin Obasohan before concluding. “Les Hervelles, Van Rossom and all these guys are the giants we rely on to try to achieve things that we have never achieved, like participating in our first World Cup or our first Olympic Games. We don’t want to be satisfied with what we have already done in the past. “
The Turkish giants have been warned: the Belgian Lions are on the hunt!
Their “upset” victory against Spain
Photo credits: FIBA