Okapi coach Thomas Crab satisfied with Swiss acquisition: “Michel-Ofik Nzege can teach the group something”

Basketball BNXT League Okapi Aalst

Thomas Crab wants to win against Leuven. “Unfortunately, we have to manage without Glenn Temmerman, with whom we are not allowed to take any risks.” — © Gregory Van Gansen


After a short winter break, the Aalst coach Thomas Crab moves with Okapi Aalst to the Leuven Sportoase without Joren Vermoesen, but with the Swiss international Michel-Ofik Nzege, a 30-year-old winger who has been on the Aalst radar for some time.

Wim Redant

Thomas Crab is satisfied with his Swiss acquisition Nzege, who has already swam through quite a few European waters with passages in England, Slovakia, Switzerland and France. “I am convinced that Nzege can teach the group something. Given our limited budget, the consideration of price and quality always plays a role. It always comes down to staying within the limits of our budget and still hoisting as much quality as possible on board. From that point of view, Nzege was the best option with the available profiles. In addition to athletic ability, the 2m03 tall forward should provide greater intensity defensively. Nzege already trained this week and appears to be physically fine. Our newcomer fits in well with the group and also enjoys the advantage of being welcomed with open arms in a team without big egos. As a Swiss international, Nzege has a lot of international experience. It was also important to sign a player who can play alongside Ivan Maras and Nikolas Popovic.”

Losing streak

After three narrow losses, Okapi was hit on Boxing Day with a thirty-something visiting Antwerp Giants. In Leuven, Aalst has to get rid of a series of losses that threatens to knock the Ajuinen off course for the Golden League. “At the start of the season, we wanted to sign with our rejuvenated team with players from under the church tower for a five out of twelve. Looking back, we could have won a few times in the previous games. For example, we flirted against Ostend with a stunt victory without Dorian Marchant and Glenn Temmerman. A win against the leader could of course have colored our season. We knew in advance that we were facing a transition year. In Antwerp it turned out to be the barrel, but before we always sold our skin for a lot of money. I certainly don’t want to make a negative evaluation. After a winning streak of five wins in a row, perhaps a different expectation pattern grew, but the Golden League was never set as a target. That does not alter the fact that we go for the win every game.”

In Leuven, Okapi hits an injured animal, because after the defeat at red lantern Brussels, coach Eddy Casteels is undoubtedly keen on a resounding revenge. “We should not focus too much on the opponent and mainly rely on our own strength. It comes down to reaching a top level yourself. At Maras and Popovic the bobbin was finished in Antwerp, but they were able to charge the batteries. Unfortunately, we have to manage without Glenn Temmerman, with whom we are not allowed to take any risks. Glenn is struggling with an inflammation in the groin, a very annoying injury.”

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