Have you heard of Wageningen Pluto? A brother of Radix, Lumen or Atlas in Wageningen? No, it's a basketball legend in this small village.
It is not a secret that basketball is the underdog compared to football, the everlasting favorite in the Netherlands. Wageningen is no exception: the basketball court in de Bongerd is nine out of ten occupied by Chinese and several non-Dutch Europeans. The match at Tarthorst, nevertheless, attracted quite a few spectators, most of whom were the friends or family members of the players on court. 'Defense! Defense!', like a shot in the arm, the fervent cheer from the stand pepped up Pluto's players: one after another 3-pointer shoot allowed Wageningen Pluto to be dominant in most of the game with a comfortable margin. The Nijmegen team, however, was not a pushover: with 5:00 remaining in the second half, they narrowed down the gap into a 5-point game, 82-77. Somehow their rally momentum suddenly fizzled out afterwards, Pluto held their ground and took the game under control again. When the final whistle closed out the game, the whole gymnasium was immersed in the triumphant ambience.
After the game, I went towards the bench, where Stefan was sitting and talking with his 'proteges' from the Under-14 team he coached. 'Do you find it difficult to be the only non-Dutch in the team?' I asked. 'No,' there's no hesitation in his answer. As he said, communication was not a problem since he could understand the basic basketball terms in Dutch, sometimes they also spoke in English in the locker room. Every now and then his teammate invited him to their family to have dinner together. 'It's like a big family,' he said.
The home victory of last Saturday night extended their unbeaten record up to seven matches. As the front runner of the regional league Rayon Hoofdklasse, their aim at the First Division is just around the corner. Want to take a glimpse of this Champions-to-be star team? See you in Tarthorst at 20.00, Nov 26.
Vid of the week: Highlights of Pluto's player Jordi Dueck.