The Netherlands will not have to wait long to get a basketball player from their country into the NBA, international Jesse Edwards believes. He considers the chances “very good” that he or one of his teammates will soon be playing in the biggest basketball competition in the world. Francisco Elson was the last Dutch player in the NBA in 2012.
Edwards is now with Orange in Istanbul for the Olympic qualification tournament, which begins on Sunday with their group match against Sweden. Final next Sunday. It must be achieved and won in order to maintain a chance at next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.
The 23-year-old believes the chance of qualifying for the 2028 or 2032 Games is greater. “This is the best goal for me. If this trend continues with talent, it is definitely possible.”
The Amsterdam talent is getting its optimism from the new generation of basketball players who have reported to Orange. Along with the more experienced players, there is now a “nice squad”, which, according to Edwards, should continue to develop towards the top eight in Europe under new national coach Arik Ševik. This is necessary for historical participation in the games.
Together with David Njessan, Renk Mast and Tristan Enarona, among others, Edwards makes up that new Dutch group. All four of them play on a “collegiate team” in the United States, which Edwards says is a good starting point for the NBA. Of the thousands of college players, only a maximum of sixty talents make it to the NBA each year. Edwards hopes to make the move after next season.
The biotechnology master’s student came into contact with basketball at an early age through his two older brothers, Reigns and Kai. Kai (25) now also plays for the Orange team. “They watched a lot of YouTube videos about the NBA and it got us playing a lot.” Basketball icon LeBron James has often appeared in these videos. Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks is now Edwards’ greatest example.
The 38-year-old James, the league’s all-time leading scorer, will likely play in the NBA for another year. The 28-year-old Antetokounmpo could last a little longer. Edwards says he’s not necessarily in a rush to join the NBA to play against James, “the greatest player ever.” “That would make it even weirder, but at that moment everything you do is already weird. I’ll be sorry if you miss it, but in the end you forget about it.”
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