Next step in Holland
Our Senior Men's team played 2 games in the Netherlands last weekend. On Saturday, Sparta faced the new Division 1 team The Hague Royals. It was the first game for the Royals in their history and it was a close one from the beginning. The lead changed several times and it was in the last quarter, that Sparta could take a clear lead with a 12-4 run to lead 71-59. At the end it was a W for us with 83-70.
Sparta played with only Luxembourgish players because Miles Bowman will only arrive this week and Aundre Jackson left the team due to his own request (personal reasons). Knowing this, Sparta won against a professional team with only Luxembourgish players, which shows the good work of the team during preseason.
On Sunday, Sparta faced Feyenoord Rotterdam, also from first Dutch League, but a lot stronger than The Hague. From the beginning, our players felt the big difference and it took some time to adjust to the high level and intensity of the opponent (21-4 and 28-9 after first quarter). The second quarter was still tough for Sparta, the size and physical advantage of Rotterdam was too big for us and at halftime, the score was clear 48-19.
In the second half, Sparta could adapt to the level and played a great third quarter. Sparta won this quarter with 25-17, a great sign of mentality from our team. The team showed itself that they can compete against stronger teams if everybody steps up and plays the maximum he can do. At the end, Feyenoord wins it 84-58, less clear that everybody in the gym expected after the first half.
Headcoach Pascal Meurs points out the big steps forward in the preparation:
"As a coach, I'm very satisfied with our trip to Holland.
Mostly happy about the mental strength of our guys. After hearing the decision of Aundre to leave us, we responded well. On Saturday we beat without any professional players a D1 team in Holland. Our enthusiasm, intensity and cohesion were the key to our victory.
On Sunday we had a very rough first quarter, where we obviously struggled with the different defensive pressure, physicality and size. But that's exactly why we play such teams in our preparation. And after that Q1, we found our intensity and cohesion to fight us back into the game where we ended up winning the second half.
All together a very useful weekend in our preparation, we definitely made some important steps."