New Zealand Hoops – Q&A With Piet Van Hasselt

What is your full name and where are you from?

Piet Van Hasselt, born in Dunedin, but moved to Christchurch when I was 11.

Why did you choose the game of basketball? 

Basketball is the ultimate team game and everyone needs to play their role to be successful.  Also because it’s a fast-paced game combining mental skills and physical ability.

In your youth did you play basketball? 

I played with Riccarton High School in Christchurch.

You are currently the Head Coach of the New Zealand 3×3 National mens team and an assistant Coach for the Canterbury Rams, please tell me about these experiences? 

I’ve been fortunate to work with high quality people within these great organisations. I am looking forward to helping the journey of the NZ 3×3 Men’s programme as we head towards the 2022 Commonwealth Games and the 3×3 game growing regionally and nationally.  I haven’t missed a Rams home game since 1997, and had the opportunity to almost do everything with the organisation apart from a playing capacity (which I was never good enough for, haha). The Rams have always been a great family-based culture and it’s a continuing pleasure to be involved to help in my small part.

What made you decide to become a Coach?

I wanted to test and improve on my skills to help bring players together for a common goal and culture, and develop skills that they can use on the court, but also apply to real life.  Also to be a servant of the game and to the players I have the honour to coach.

You are a role model for young men and women, what advice do you have for them getting into basketball?

Enjoy yourself! Celebrate the little successes and embrace the process of improvement.  Bring a positive attitude and give confidence to your teammates.  Good things take time – embrace the grind.  Study the game, learn from others and ask questions.

What has been the ultimate highlight so far in your Coaching career? 

I am most proud when the team performs more than the sum of their parts.  When the team faces adversity, takes accountability and finds a way to overcome it.  Fortunately I’ve had lots of teams and players who are great leaders which really helps to create situations where they put themselves into a chance to succeed thanks to the culture they create.

Who has been your biggest influence in basketball and why? 

I’ve had the chance to work with some outstanding coaches and players and they continue to inspire me to be better each day. There’s too many to name here, but they continue to tell me to have confidence in being the best version of myself – always working on that.

Who is the ultimate Women’s basketball player in New Zealand?

We have been blessed with so many high performing Women’s players over the years, that work tirelessly and often without much fanfare. I enjoyed observing the Tall Ferns camp and home series vs Japan under former Coach Kennedy Kereama and love the passion that Toni Edmondson brings when she puts on the NZ singlet.

Who is the ultimate mens basketball player in New Zealand? 

This is a tough one as well.  The great thing about NZ players is that they will do anything for the team to succeed rather than focus on individual goals. I was fortunate to be in Indianapolis for the 2002 World Cup and observe how truly special it was when Pero Cameron, Phill Jones, Kirk Penney and Mark Dickel and co. brought that team together to perform on the world stage.

In terms of your Coaching career, what would be the pinnacle for you? 

Results-wise: Internationally – Medalling at the 3×3 World Senior Event. NZ – Winning an NBL Championship.

Whats the best pair of basketball shoes you have owned?  

Nike Air Garnett III’s

Using basketball as a tool, what life lessons can you instill in the players you coach?  

You can’t cheat the game or life.  You need the mindset to put in the work to be able to perform. Picked up some great lessons from players’ who have lived the “Play for each other” team motto.

How can we improve basketball here in New Zealand? 

Inspiring more people to love the game by offering enjoyable experiences for youth.  Growing the numbers even more and encouraging more coaches, referees and administrators along with it.  Instilling a passion to play for the 5 on 5 and 3×3 National Teams and represent your country.

#BuildTheCulture 🏀

Published by Jesse Wallis

Basketball Journalist

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