Arvin Slager (35) basketball dream comes true: ‘The Olympic medal is realistic’
Whatever the outcome, Slagter and his teammates achieved a historic feat at the end of May when they became the first Dutch basketball players to reach the games. And also in an exciting way, by winning, among other things, the United States, by far the best basketball country in the world.
Is it still on a pink cloud? “No, absolutely not,” Slagter replied with a smile on the basketball court at Lupinesingel in his hometown of Alphen aan den Rijn. The real goal is, of course, to participate in the Olympic Games and that is very close. But we certainly celebrated it.
The best Dutch basketball player
His track record as a basketball player in the Eredivisie is impressive. Six-time National Champion, including twice with ZZ Leiden, five National Cups and five Super Cups. He was even elected in 2014 Most Valuable Player (MVP), or Best Dutch Basketball Player.
As a member of the Orange International Team, participating in the 2015 European Championships is the highest level that can be achieved. In October 2019, Slagter will switch from five against five to what’s called 3×3 basketball. He represents the Netherlands with Demiou van der Horst, Julian Garing and former ZZ Leiden player Jesse Vorn.
In 3×3 basketball, two teams of three players face each other on one half of a court with only one basket. Matches last ten minutes, or until one team has 21 points. Unlike five to five, there is not a three-point line, but a two-point line. Outside of this line, the result is equal to two points, with one point inside. A team consists of four players, only three of whom may be on the field at a time.
Why did you embark on this adventure?
“Because I had my childhood dream of going to the Olympics. I was in the fortunate position of also being able to be a five against five international for the Netherlands. Unfortunately, getting to the Games was not at all realistic. With three against three there was a real opportunity and it was This is also why I switched to a 3×3 basketball.
This discipline is a relatively late discovery for you. What makes 3×3 basketball so much fun?
It is a very young and aggressively developing sport. Compared to five versus five it’s a great addition. You can do it anywhere, you need very limited space. In addition, it is very fast. It blinks, it goes from the first to the last second. And it’s short, so it fits perfectly in this zeitgeist.
Moreover, it can be played in the most beautiful places in the world. A few years ago, the World Cup was held at Rembrandt Square in Amsterdam. The next European Championship will be held at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. One time I am in a shopping mall and have to warm up among the people who are shopping, the other time all the facilities are there. As far as I’m concerned, there are no limits to the possibilities, which is what makes it so great.
Most athletes with an Olympic dream have been working towards it for years. They often follow a four-year, sometimes longer course.
It’s been just over a year and a half for me. I think the experience I had from five against five helped me make a very quick turnaround. To be sure, some things are fundamentally different. And I also believe that in order to do one well, you have to say goodbye to the other. It is this drive and lack of ambiguity that has now enabled us to achieve this result.
“When I’ve played 15 years in the same league at some point, things are the same. I really like the challenge in 3×3, because it’s a different structure. Somehow it’s more self-directed. The coach isn’t allowed to train during the match, which means you have to do it with fours. Persons.
What is your role within your team?
‘It is different.’ It also depends on what configuration we are in. Overall, one of my greatest strengths is shooting from behind the three-point line, which is a two-point line in 3×3 basketball. At the same time, it’s also part of the training. But in the end you have to do it all together. If the four of us fight and are on the same page, we can achieve a positive result in every match.
You are leaving for Japan next month. What assignment do you get on the plane?
“The goal is to do well in the Games. We hope to get a medal, preferably gold. I think it’s realistic, given that there are eight teams out there. And I think we showed that we can compete with the best in the world, with the performances we’ve had recently. So I don’t think there is any reason not to target that.
The next games are in three years, so it will be 38. Will this be your one and last chance to win Olympic glory?
“Never say never, but you probably will. That’s why I started chasing this dream 130 percent full. It was this opportunity and we’ve seized it so far. Now it’s important that we give it a very nice follow-up in Tokyo.”
So now or not?
“For me, yes.”
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