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|
|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|
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|
|Okay, maybe not a chicken.|
It was a real treat to go to the game. Thanks to Henry, Ross, Simon and Joanne for making it special.