Sunday, 15 May 2011

Rossy and Henry duke it out

As my 3 regular readers know, I am a fan of U of C Dinos Basketball. Three of the best players for the Dinos in the last few years now play in the Dutch leagues.

Robbie Sihota plays for Rotterdam. Even though he's the top rebounder in the league, the team is not that good, placed dead last, and they only managed a 1-35 record this year.

Henry Bekkering plays this year for Groningen; last year he played for Nijmegan. Groningen finished second this year with a 29-6 record going into the finals. Henry only suited up for 3 years as a Dino, and one of those was a red-shirt year.

Ross Bekkering plays for Leiden. Leiden placed first this year with a 30-5 record. We saw all 5 years of both Ross' and Robbie's CIS careers.

Ross and Henry are brothers; they also have a trio of sisters that play. We watched one year of Anna and 5 years of Cori with the Dinos, and Janelle plays for Gonzaga in Washington State. 

The finals this year of the Dutch basketball league features Henry's Groningen GasTerra Flames against Ross' Zorg en Zekerheid Leiden team, and coincides with our trip, so we had to get to at least one game. Leiden's a mere hour away (Groningen is over 3 by train), so we wanted to catch a game there.

Getting tickets was a challenge. You could buy them on line, but you had to print them (no ticket pick up option) and we have no printer. Word had it that the game would sell out, so we opted to get to the arena as soon as the ticket office opened (7 PM) on Saturday.

We actually got to the arena at 5 PM. It's not a big place, seating only 2,500 or so. We stuck our noses in (some kids were goofing around), and a very nice man came over to say hi. We explained we were here from Canada to see the game, and knew Ross and Henry. He pulled out his iPhone and reserved us tickets. Awesome.

We went for dinner nearby to a little local Chinese/Indonesian place. The only other patrons in the place were Groningen fans there for the game, and they talked with us endlessly about Henry and Ross, especially Henry's athleticism and the pair's dunking ability (Ross apparently beat Henry at this year's dunk competition held in conjunction with the All Star game).

We got to the arena almost an hour early. We found out the tickets weren't just reserved for us, but comped (and the guy turned out to be stats guy running the computer). We were interviewed by a reporter (how often do folks that aren't related to the players come from Canada to see a game?). We made You Tube...

Before the game started, we got a chance to say hi to Henry, Joanna (Henry's wife and former Dino women's vollyball player) and Simon, the Bekkering's dad. After the game, we intercepted Ross for a few minutes.
Ross, on the right, warming up

Henry, on the left, during warm up
The game was a blast, with the two teams really, really close. Groningen pulled out to a quick lead courtesy of a killer 3 pt game, and Leiden played catch up for a while. By mid Q2, they were back neck and neck, and started a see-saw battle that was chippy, with 26 fouls called in the first half, which ended with Groningen up 50-48. Ross was in early foul trouble, and with 2 by early Q2, he sat most of the 2nd quarter. He also picked up a foul within seconds of the start of Q3, and ended up fouling out. Henry was steady all game, and played a lot of the second half, but couldn't make many shots fall.
Ross owning the paint under the net

Ready for the inbound

Ross on the right

Ross lining up beside Henry for a free throw

Henry defending while Ross goes for the net
The see-saw battled climaxed with a buzzer beating Hail Mary half court shot by a Leiden player that went in for 3 that brought the game to 74-73 in favour of Groningen to end Q3. The start of Q4 saw Leiden go on a 15-0 run that effectively ended the game.  In the end, it was Leiden 107, Groningen 89. Leiden had 27 fouls and 3 players fouled out; Groningen had 34 fouls and 3 players also fouled out.

They may only have 2,500 seats, but boy is there a lot of noise in the place. All the folks around us were impressed that we knew Ross and Henry, who are "household names" among the Dutch basketball league fans. Some differences to playing at U of C? The team has cheerleaders...
These folks used to cheer for the Dutch NFL team
...they don't chant "defense, defence", they don't count down the shot clock, beer (Heineken) is €2.00. And their mascot is a chicken.
Okay, maybe not a chicken.
And the fans put up with crazy Canadians who appear to be rooting for both sides at once.

It was a real treat to go to the game. Thanks to Henry, Ross, Simon and Joanne for making it special.

1 comment:

Unknown said...


Saturday I interviewed you. This is the link: