Raf Bogaerts (in white), working for Team Belgium at the Tokyo Olympics last year.

Raf Bogaerts (in white), working for Team Belgium at the Tokyo Olympics last year. © BELGA

A notable absentee from the selection of the 3×3 Lions for the World Cup in Antwerp next week: Raf Bogaerts (28). However, he was there at the Games in Tokyo and is one of two full-time Belgian 3×3 professionals. “This is incomprehensible.”

Patrick Ceulemans and Hans Jacobs

Nick Celis, Thibaut Vervoort, Bryan De Valck and Maxime Depuydt, that is the selection of the 3×3 Lions for the World Cup in their own Antwerp (20-26 June). The most notable absentee: Raf Bogaerts. Bogaerts is one of four 3×3 drivers who lost their medals at the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2021. He subsequently also took part in the World Tour competitions and, together with Vervoort, received a professional contract, which allowed him to fully focus on 3×3 basketball.

Bogaerts was not selected for sporting reasons, he was told by the driving force and coach Nick Celis. He is not injured. It hits Bogaerts hard. “This is incomprehensible. I’ve been through the Olympic track, I’ve sacrificed everything for this (Bogaerts had a permanent job as a data analyst, ed.† I was so looking forward to showing what we can do in my city, we are Antwerp residents.” Or can he understand that Bryan De Valck and Maxime Depuydt, who were not yet there in Tokyo, got a place and he didn’t? “I think I have my place in this team.”

It’s not like he’s blowing up all the bridges right now. “I will take a corona test on Saturday, like everyone else in the team. I’m not stopping, but this is hitting hard.” If one of the four World Cup Lions tests positive on Saturday, he can still join. If not, he will see the World Cup pass him by – even if someone gets injured on Sunday, Monday or during the World Cup, no more substitutes are allowed to be called up.

Annoying consequence: his professional contract normally expires after the World Cup. “I don’t know yet what this means for my future. In any case, the team will have to achieve a good result at this World Cup, but I can’t control that myself. This is very unfortunate.”

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