Spurs acquisition Niels De Ridder for the first time in his life against Antwerp Giants and younger brother Thijs: “It’s going to be incredibly weird”

Until recently, the brothers still played together at the Antwerp Giants, but Niels De Ridder was told at the end of last season that there was no longer a place for him in Ivica Skelin’s team. “Leuven, Aalst, Bergen: there were several first division players who showed interest, but I chose Kortrijk because they are quite ambitious here and I had a guarantee on playing minutes.”

In the cup match you will face each other for the first time. Who will the family support?

Niels De Ridder: “Difficult question (laughs). I think our parents will come to watch the game anyway, but I think they will support both teams. They’re still our parents, aren’t they? I think they’re going to encourage us both. Come on, I hope so anyway.”

Thijs De Ridder: “That’s right, I don’t think they’re coming to see the performance but just us.”

“It’s going to feel weird not to drive to training together in the car anymore,” Niels said in an earlier interview. Do you still hear each other often?

Niels: “We regularly play games, but Thijs has had many preparatory matches in recent weeks. I always asked how he was doing, how the atmosphere was in the team,…”

Thijs: “We also send a lot of messages to each other. Because it’s true: we used to hear each other every day. We were and still are the best of friends, so we try to keep in touch every day. And yes, we can meet on the PlayStation bang (laughs).

Thijs, in a blitz interview you also let us know that your brother is also your role model. Is that still true?

Thijs: “Secure! I used to look up to him and I still do. When I was in fifth grade, he had just turned pro. He had such a strong mentality. He was always an hour early for training and lived like a real pro: he didn’t smoke, drink or take drugs. I inherited all those professional habits from him.”

Niels: “I’m not saying that real pros should sit at home every night and not go to a bar. There are plenty that can go out after a game. I also occasionally go with the team to eat or drink. But go away? It doesn’t tell me much at all.”

How does it feel to face each other?

Niels: “That’s going to be really unbelievably weird. We’ve always been used to playing together. It’s really never happened and it’s pretty exciting. I’m really looking forward to it too. And I sincerely hope he will play a good match, even if it is against me.”

Thijs: “It is indeed difficult to realize. Playing against my brother has yet to sink in a bit. I don’t think I’ll fully realize that until I’m on the field. Now that just feels… weird. We already faced each other in training, but now it is for the Cup and against another team, hey.”

Niels, how difficult was it to leave Antwerp Giants?

Niels: “I saw myself playing with the Giants all my life. I once said that on a podcast (in mei 2021, red). Then I just didn’t think about ever leaving. It was a no-brainer to stay in Antwerp. It was therefore difficult to make the decision to leave for another club. Now I am happy with my choice, because I get a lot of playing minutes at Kortrijk Spurs. Kortrijk is an ambitious club that wants to get to the BNXT League quickly and that has impressive accommodation. We used to come here once for the Xmas tournament and I was blown away. The Lange Munte is quite an impressive venue.”

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