Sixteen Belgian Lions for Slovakia and Spain: mix of experience and new generation

Basketball European Championship qualification Belgian Lions

National coach Dario Gjergja is counting on Ismael Bako, among others, for a strong start in the European Championship qualifying round. — © BELGIUM

Brussel

National coach Dario Gjergja and his sporting staff present a selection of sixteen Belgian Lions for the first window of the European Championship qualifying round. The Belgian Lions will start the European Championship qualifying round in Bratislava and versus Slovakia on Thursday, February 22. On Sunday, February 25, the Belgian Lions will receive European champion and world power Spain in Charleroi. The Belgian selection is going for a sixth consecutive Eurobasket.

The sixteen-person selection includes a mix of experience (including Pierre-Antoine Gillet, Jean-Marc Mwema, Retin Obasohan, Kevin Tumba, Ismael Bako, Hans Vanwijn, Loïc Schwartz) and Next Gen with Thijs De Ridder, Siebe Ledegen, Joppe Mennes, Jo Van Buggenhout, Milan Samardzic, Niels Van Den Eynde and Vrenz Bleijenbergh.

“Some ‘oldens’, such as Kevin Tumba who is currently the best rebounder and shot blocker in the BNXT League, are currently performing strongly,” said High Performance Manager Jacques Stas. “They have also clearly indicated that they want to help with qualifying. The integration of the new generation continues with 7 players under the age of 25. Our goal: Eurobasket 2025 (August 27-September 14) with all the best Belgian players… including Toumani Camara (Portland Trail Blazers) and AJ Mitchell (UG SANTA Barbara).”

It is the first time since 2015 that the Belgian Lions will return to the Charleroi Dôme. The two remaining windows towards the 2025 European Championship will be completed between November 18 and 26, 2024 and February 17 and 25, 2025. Of the eight groups of four, the top 2 and the four best thirds are qualified for the 2025 European Championship. Host country Latvia, which is in group C with the Belgian Lions, Spain and Slovakia, Finland, Poland and Cyprus are directly qualified for Eurobasket.

Selection: Ismael Bako (Kazan), Vrenz Bleijenbergh (Merkezefendi), Thijs De Ridder (Bilbao), Jonas Delalieux (Limburg United), Pierre-Antoine Gillet (Oostende), Siebe Ledegen (Okapi Aalst), Joppe Mennes (Oostende), Jean-Marc Mwema (Antwerp Giants), Retin Obasohan ((Tortona), Mattias Palinckx (Kangaroos Mechelen), Milan Samardzic (Spirou Charleroi), Loïc Schwartz (Saint Quentin), Kevin Tumba (Liège), Jo Van Buggenhout (Antwerp Giants), Niels Van Den Eynde (Kangaroos Mechelen), Hans Vanwijn (Hapoel Holon)

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