Vrenz Bleijenbergh carrying the torch at Ostend

By Johnny Askounis/ data@eurohoops.internet

Each single workforce within the Basketball Champions League is a contender till confirmed in any other case. Removed from merely sticking round, Filou Oostende together with red-hot Vrenz Bleijenbergh is up 1-0 within the best-of-three sequence towards Bahcesehir Koleji, wanting right into a home-court alternative to advance to the subsequent spherical. From there to go all the best way to the Closing 4, that is the plan.

Bleijenbergh, 22, opened as much as Eurohoops about gunning to increase the BCL marketing campaign, working with Dario Gjergja, his profession, and extra.

Final week, Oostende went from a 19-point deficit to steal the home-court benefit from the Turkish outfit, the largest comeback since Turk Telekom trailed by 19 factors and beat Hapoel Jerusalem two years in the past. The sequence switches to COREtec Dome and Sport 2 is a clinching alternative. And Bleijenbergh’s contribution in Sport 1 delivering a career-high in rebounds was enormous.

“He concerned himself in each rebound within the final 5 minutes,” the Croatian-Belgian tactician praised his participant through the postgame press convention in Istanbul.

“I’ve the flexibility to assist the workforce with that,” Bleijenbergh advised Eurohoops, “We knew all of us ought to be concerned within the rebounds. For me, it was one of many keys on this sport and it paid off. They missed pictures and we actually managed the boards.”

The worldwide ahead with Belgium, he beforehand grabbed 15 rebounds in Group D’s Gameday 6 to complete the Common Season in fashion versus Hapoel Atsmon Holon. A complete of 17 rebounds instantly reshaped his private finest on the senior degree and had been probably the most by any participant in a single Champions League contest since David Kravish tallied 18 boards final February. Paired with 14 factors behind 6/12 area targets generated a team-high effectivity ranking of 21.

“I actually centered on serving to the workforce out in controlling the boards within the final two video games. I believe it was a giant key within the final two video games, however it’s up to now and we received to look ahead,” he defined specializing in the subsequent challenges.

Ostend proudly sits among the many lasting BCL authentic groups. Apart from placing belief into younger gamers and domestically extending the streak of Belgian league championships beginning approach again in 2012, head coach Gjergja’s aspect has been profitable on the continental degree as nicely. Making the Spherical of 16 is the ceiling reached in 2020 and 2022, final 12 months by overcoming Igokea’s home-court benefit within the Play-Ins.

“We actually wish to go all the best way to the tip. We all know we’re Oostende,” expressed Bleijenbergh on the objective this season, “I believe we’ve a very robust workforce, a deep workforce, everybody could make a distinction. So, why cannot we make it to the tip?

“We’re going step-by-step,” he added, “The win in Turkey is behind us. Now, we have to handle the second win at dwelling. Then we will return into the teams, towards three robust groups once more. Presumably within the subsequent spherical, we might want to handle the house video games and steal some away video games. We are going to see. We do not know what’s going to occur.”

Even youthful, earlier than opting to affix Oostende, he made his option to 24 BCL video games as a member of his present aspect’s rival Telenet Giants Antwerp. In 2018-19, he chipped in 0.8 factors and 1.2 rebounds per sport over eight appearances as his former workforce certified and in addition hosted the season-ending Closing 4.

“It was an amazing success for Antwerp. We had a really robust workforce with gamers now in EuroLeague and the NBA. Why cannot we do the identical with Ostend?” he drew parallels to Eurohoops. In an upgraded position, such an prolonged run would lead him to grow to be a member of each Champions League Closing 4 runs of groups based mostly in Belgium.

Rising right into a key member of Antwerp by the tip of the stint along with his first skilled workforce, Bleijenbergh moved on, went undrafted in 2021, performed in Spain’s Liga Endesa with Coosur Actual Betis, and within the 2022 NBA2K23 Summer season League in Las Vegas with the Phoenix Suns.

“It was an necessary selection for me to go to Oostende,” he talked about his determination final offseason, “I had a tough season with ups and downs going to Spain, in my first 12 months overseas. I simply wanted to have stabilization. I knew Oostende has a profitable mentality like me. I additionally knew the coach as a result of he’s additionally my coach on the nationwide workforce. It was an ideal choice for me.”

“I actually just like the Champions League,” he commented on returning to FIBA’s continental membership competitors as nicely, “It is actually good for all of the gamers to play on the European degree, to indicate their expertise.”

From key roles in all junior nationwide groups of Belgium, Bleijenbergh moved into the senior nationwide workforce lately. His worldwide caps of him stretched into the 2022 EuroBasket.

“I’m actually wanting ahead to it. We’ve a number of younger expertise developing,” he answered Eurohoops about extra motion with the Lions, “I believe the subsequent 5 years shall be actually necessary to construct as a workforce. If you happen to stick collectively and have good work collectively within the summers, then you definately by no means know what can occur. The expertise is there. We simply have to work collectively.”

Guided by Gjergja, Belgium made it to the Spherical of 16 and was knocked out by Slovenia and Luka Doncic in final summer season’s EuroBasket.

“We actually wish to take the subsequent step. We’re constructing on it now. We had a number of veteran guys that made step one for us,” added Bleijenbergh on the previous and promising way forward for the Belgium nationwide workforce, “Now, we as the brand new technology should take the subsequent step.”

Staying on board with Gjergja, he turned one of many key gamers within the 2022-23 Champions League marketing campaign. Alongside Tre’Shawn Thurman, Pierre-Antoine Gillet, Haris Bratanovic, Breein Tyree, and Keye van der Vuurst de Vries, Bleijenbergh is likely one of the six gamers averaging a double-digit effectivity ranking.

“This child is a superb expertise. And if he breaks some obstacles, he shall be an excellent participant,” was the response of the skilled head coach to a query about his participant after the win towards Bahcesehir Koleji.

Himself speaking to Eurohoops about his personal future, Ostend is all he is excited about.

“I’m not wanting too far proper now. I’m simply actually centered on Oostende on the season, the Champions League, profitable the title once more with Oostende and the Cup,” Bleijenbergh mentioned, “My future is basically to deal with Ostend. And to work as arduous as potential to get higher as a participant and as an individual, and assist Oostende win. From there, we’ll see what can occur sooner or later.”

Photograph Credit score: Basketball Champions League

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