By Daniel Pagan
After years of playing on the same team, the Dinos’ Bekkering brothers will get the rare chance to face each other in professional basketball in the land of decriminalized weed and wooden shoes, otherwise known as Holland.
Last month, the Dinos all-time leading rebounder Ross Bekkering signed with ZZ Leiden of the Dutch Eredivisie league. His older brother, Henry Bekkering, signed with Groningen’s GasTerra Flames in the off season after a year with Nijmegen.
Dinos men’s basketball coach Dan Vanhooren said the opportunity for the brothers to play professionally in Europe would be a great way to gain a new perspective and experience.
Vanhooren said the new arena will give the Bekkerings great explosure and help them to improve.
“Instead of being a go-to guy in a league like the Canada West, I have to find and develop a role here in Groningen,” said Henry Bekkering.
Vanhooren said Ross Bekkering played against Henry during practice games in Calgary, but it will be the first time they play against one another competitively.
“They will play against each other a few times this year and, from experience, that will be only a battle of stubborn, athletic and determined people,” said Vanhooren. “Maybe this time they won’t knock out a tooth.”
Henry Bekkering played in the Netherlands for a year, after hanging up his Dinos jersey April 2009. Since then, he explained, the Dutch fans have been very welcoming.
He finds significant and challenging differences between Canada West basketball and pro basketball due to the skill level. The Dutch league season consists of 36 games in addition to club championship games. The Bekkering brothers will play in more than 50 games over nine months.
“The pro level is different than University in terms of level and of lifestyle. It’s a lot more of a grind, but that also makes it very rewarding,” said Henry Bekkering. “It’s your job, so you have to take it very seriously.”
The possibility of a reunion with his brother is promising to the senior Bekkering.
“It would be even more amazing to play with him, but having him this close is also a huge blessing,” said Bekkering. “We have a great relationship, so we won’t get too out of hand when we hit the court.”
Another teammate and friend of the Bekkerings, 2009-10 Canada West All-Star Robbie Sihota has also signed a pro contract with the Rotterdam Challengers. The former Dinos power forward is now the third Dino to make their way into the Dutch Eredivisie League.