“Basketball in the Netherlands is on an upward trend” Holland bench boss and former Holon coach Maurizio Buscaglia talks hoops

Sep 1, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

On Saturday night, Israel will take on Holland and while the Netherlands roster doesn’t feature many names that standout, their head coach Maurizio Buscaglia is definitely one person that does to blue-and-white aficionados. The Italian bench boss who has been in charge of the Dutch squad since 2019 began the 2021/22 season in charge of the eventual league champions Hapoel Holon but was replaced mid-season ironically by Israel’s head coach Guy Goodes.

While Buscaglia may have made an early exit from the Holy Land, he has certainly made his mark in European basketball by taking on a valiant project that has begun seeing the fruits of his labor.

Ahead of the highly anticipated matchup, Buscaglia spoke to The Sports Rabbi about his expectations at the Eurobasket, his time in Israel with Holon along with his work with Holland and how it has developed.

Maurizio Buscaglia – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“I started in 2019 with a plan for an eye to the future with a new core and with a new technical staff and it has been a good journey so far. During the bubble we defeated Turkey in an upset which was the first time we did so since 1968 and then we beat the Croatians. We now have a lot of players and staff with experience and it had been great to play in these types of games.”

Buscaglia and Holland have been working very hard as they try to continue to build their program during their preparation for the Eurobasket and made a point of playing against tough competition ahead of the tournament.

“We played preparation games against top level competition including France and Germany who invited us to play against them. We also played against Lithuania and Slovenia which was tough and we struggled but this is the only way to gain experience and the only way to go up. Most important for us is to move to the next level and the friendly games help us do exactly that. We have been working hard since July 20th we may have not won a lot of these games but this is the way for us to continue to improve and develop.”

One of the keys for Buscaglia was setting goals with the federation as they attempt to string together a number of appearances at top tournaments while also continuing to develop the Dutch youth.

Maurizio Buscaglia – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“This has been one of the best summers ever as we have hit the targets that we had set for the program which was to make it to the Eurobasket and final stage of the World Cup qualifying. This was a good and sweet ending to this portion and now to try and qualify for the 2025 Eurobasket to make it twice in a row to make it to the big tournament.”

Buscaglia has been working hand in hand with former Israel National Team coach Arik Shivek who heads the entire Netherlands youth department, “We absolutely work together as he is the chief of the academy. We have a relationship and when we both came together to work with the Netherlands we sat down and discussed the program and how the youth department and junior teams can help the national team for the future.”

“We look at Israel as a model for our journey as we saw how the country is developing youth. The Under-20 team won they 2018 and 2019 European Championship and this is the inspiration for our work. There are many Dutch players who have made a good push in the BNXT League which is a combination of teams from Belgium and Holland. It is a very interesting league and it has helped the players reach the next level.”

There are also a number national team players from Holland who are currently playing in American University programs which is also adding to the player pool for Buscaglia as the program continues to grow and flourish.

Maurizio Buscaglia – Photo Credit: Champions League

“We also have a good relationship with the US colleges and we have 6-7 players who have been playing in the high school and university programs. They have been working with the national team program and as we head to 2025 we will have even more talent.”

Buscaglia began last season as Hapoel Holon’s head coach but was dismissed after falling in the first game of the Round of 16 playoff against Besiktas and while he may have been disappointed he very much cherished his time in Israel and with the club.

“That’s life. It is normal at some point that teams want to make a change. They may preferred something else and things could have perhaps been better. I began my time well with Holon which had a good team and is a very good organization with nice people who were around me and we were working together well. We were second in the Israeli league at the end of the first round and the team was in the playoff for the round of 16 in the Basketball Champions League. On one hand I was sad to leave the club but on the other hand I had a very good time in Israel.”

It wasn’t a shock to the Italian tactician that the purples won the Israeli title as he saw what the team could do when he built the squad over the summer months, “I was not surprised as we did a good amount of work and the players continued to play better and better as the season went on. They made a small change and the team was focussed on one plan. I am happy for the club and that I had a small part. But overall I am happy for Holon and the fans.”

גיא גודס הפועל חולון

Maurizio Buscaglia and Guy Goodes – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il

Buscaglia felt a connection with the supporters and the staff from the club who he very much enjoyed being a part of, “I left at a difficult point of the season when there was a COVID outbreak and it wasn’t easy to leave because I was working with such nice and great people who brought a high level of kindness. The Holon fans created such a good atmosphere in the arena and it was so beautiful. I will always remember the fans.”

As for Holland’s matchup against Israel, Buscaglia is looking forward to the challenge, We start the Eurobasket with Serbia and the day after that we play Israel which will be a different game and a different style. It will be most important that we focus on the defensive side of the game as Israel can score from a lot of areas and in fact from everywhere. They can play big and small and they have good shooters that spread the floor while playing both inside and outside. I really like how Israel plays.”

All in all, Buscaglia sees Poland continuing to develop and “We want to be the best version that we want to be. We will have an underdog mentality and this is the way for us to enjoy the tournament. All in all we have a good feeling because the basketball in the Netherlands is on an upward trend.”

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