Roel Moors coached a young Antwerp squad to the Final Four with a player’s mentality

2019-05-02T15:39:43+00:00 2019-05-02T21:20:51+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

02/May/19 15:39

Roel Moors has found the way to highly motivate the youngest team in the Basketball Champions League.

By Antonis Stroggylakis/

ANTWERP — They say that when a former player becomes a coach, it’s difficult to take the hooper out of him.

Well, why should he, actually?

Especially when working like this helps the coach bond with a blooming group of players, make a solid unit out of them, and get some fine results in the process. Like Roel Moors does with his Telenet Antwerp Giants.

“I think that what gives me an advantage, is that I’m still pretty young as a coach,” 40-year-old Moors told Eurohoops. “I still have some of the player’s mentality.”

“Young” is the key word here. The Giants of Antwerp are the youngest squad in the Basketball Champions League with an average of 23 years of age. No player is older than 27.

Some are actually experiencing the maiden season of their professional careers.

So how does a coach not only successfully guide such delicate group of players but also leads them towards the unprecedented achievement of making the Final Four of a European competition?

“I have really good guys,” Moors said to Eurohoops. “They have a winning mindset. They are fearless. They have talent of course. And you need talent. But they are ready to work hard and work together. It’s a great joy for me that I was able to find a great group of players that were willing to play together.”

The task of motivating such a young squad into performing with a potent “team first” attitude can be challenging. Young players want to expose and prove themselves to the world. Produce numbers and stuff the stats sheet. Make an impression.

Moors has convinced his troops that the only way forward for each individually is via a joint effort.

“That’s the toughest job and I invest a lot in it,” Moors said to Eurohoops. “I’m trying to make them believe that when you play as a team and when you are ready to share the ball, then the ball will come to you.”

This kind of mindset that has been developed in Antwerp made an impression to EuroLeague veteran Tremmell Darden when he played with the team last season. “After two or three practices, he [Darden] said that this is really amazing. He told me that he played with teams that had more talent but didn’t want to play together. And that I have guys that do want to play together.”

“Of course, it’s easier when you win. Then the players realize that “OK, he’s right.” Everyone gets the exposure he wants,” the Belgian coach explained.

Moors himself had to learned to walk very fast when he began making his baby steps into the coaching. Just few months after he retired from playing as a legendary figure in the history of the Giants, he was called to assume head coaching duties with the team when Paul Vervaeck was axed.

From a player to an assistant and then to a head coach in a span of few months. Moors had a major transition to undergo.

“It’s more demanding to be a coach. You have to deal with so many things. When you step down, in the first months, you are still a player. But you cannot be on the floor anymore. You got to find other solutions. In the first half of my first year, came the biggest adjustments. Making the switch and having to find solutions before the game, during the game and after the game. Because previously, it was just ‘during the game’

“Both are very nice jobs.  Playing? It’s the best possible thing. But coaching gives me great joy as well,” Moors added.

The Giants’ journey led them to the Basketball Champions League Final Four. The tournament is held in their hometown of Antwerp, Belgium and thousands and thousands of their fans are expected to come in the arena to cheer for them.

Moors and his young guys welcome the pressure this might bring to them.

“We had to deal with pressure already to get into this competition. We had to deal with pressure to get into the Top 4. To beat Murcia. They had an eight point advantage and Game 2 in Spain was difficult. They were 12 points up. But we advanced.”

“And my players? They live up to occasions like that,” Moors said with certainty.