Phil Booth and Oostende ready to fight back

By Stefan Djordjevic/ [email protected]

Filou Oostende had been a regular participant in the FIBA’s Basketball Champions League, as well as Europe Cup, and the Belgian champs have returned for another season, trying to overcome their limits.

And their limit so far was reaching the Round of 16. In fact, Oostende managed to pull through the group stage only once, in the 2019-20 season, and was taken down afterward by Tenerife. They did manage to force Game 3, being one of the two teams that so that year.

However, Oostende hasn’t been focused on results only, as they don’t shy away from developing players and making up a young roster.

This year is no exception. While having four guys near, at, or over 30 years of age – Levi Randolph (29), Pierre-Antoine Gillet (30), Olivier Troisfontaines (32), Dusan Djordjevic (38) – their overall average stands at 24 this season. And they’ve got a fair amount of guys below that line.

And it’s only the Belgian or European talent that Oostende has been giving a chance to. One such example is the 25-year-old American guard Phil Booth.

Booth came off a highly successful college career, although he did have some trouble with injury, during which he won the NCAA twice with Villanova. In fact, he scored 20 points and two crucial free throws in the final minute of the Championship game against North Carolina, in 2016.

While his name wasn’t called out in the 2019 NBA Draft, Booth did spend a year in the G League, playing for the Capital City Go-Go and the Oklahoma City Blue.

While still young, that experience his experience is exactly what Oostende needs to get over the hump this season, especially so since they lost the first two games of the season, to favorites Tofas Bursa and SIG Strasbourg.

Booth, however, together with Randolph and the whole team managed to save the season with a comeback win over Kalev/Cramo on the road, after overtime.

“Yeah, they kept us together, especially end of third, start of the fourth. The young guys from the bench, they really stepped up. It was a full team effort. We just needed to stay together all the way,” he said, handing down some praise for the young team.

He was actually the one to drain the game-winning three-pointer with four seconds remaining, as well as to pay out crucial defensive tasks on the other side.

“I came off the screen, and he kinda slipped, a wide-open shot, so I took it and it went down for me. It was big. Also the stop on Melson on the other side, he was making everything tonight,” Booth said after the game.

He finds team effort important and he believes that this win could be the turning point for Oostende this season. They are behind but there’s more to play and the top two spots are still very reachable.

“Just standing together as a team. Through the ups and downs. Just standing together and fighting,” he said and added. “It’s good for us to build on. Got the first one, and on the road, and the way we did it. The overtime, fighting together. This is a momentum win and we will try to carry it over, keep going forward.”

Their first test will be once again to beat Kalev, this time around at the home soil in Belgium. But that will be just the start as Tofas and Strasbourg await around the corner before the final buzzer of the group stage.

Photo Credit: Basketball Champions League

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