Rising star Vervoort set to be hottest show in 3x3 this season
ANTWERP (Belgium) - Twelve months ago, little known Belgian Thibaut Vervoort decided to focus his energy on 3x3 as the Tokyo Olympics loomed.
It turned out to be a great decision with Vervoort aka 'Must See TV' becoming one of the best shows in 3x3, where he lifted new kids on the block Antwerp into prime time and sky-high ratings.
After a year for the ages, where he became the breakout star of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2021 and led underdog Belgium to the Olympics, Vervoort is tipped to be a top contender to compete for the mantle of 3x3's best player.
The 24-year-old had no difficulty adjusting to the fast and furious 3x3 as he finished sixth overall in scoring on the World Tour and his average of 6.1ppg was the second highest in the top 10 behind Riga's Karlis Lasmanis, who was voted regular season MVP by his peers.
He lifted Antwerp into a rising power, while also shining on the international stage highlighted by hitting a trio of Tissot Buzzer Beaters to help Belgium finish fourth in Tokyo.
Despite all the accolades in his debut season, where Kyle Montgomery aka 'The Voice' awarded him best rookie, Vervoort most enjoyed 3x3's special tight knit community.
"It's like a family once you reach a certain level," he said. "Bonds are created and it's like a community vibe."
Out of all his incredible feats in 2021, the 6ft,5in (1.96m) Vervoort's favorite accomplishment was booking Belgium's ticket to Tokyo at the FIBA 3x3 Universality Olympic Qualifying Tournament after they stunned host Hungary.
"That was the most stressful and beautiful moment of my sports career," he said. "The emotion I felt talking to my family made me feel like all these years playing basketball paid off."
He might have only realized it last year, but Vervoort was born to play 3x3. He can shoot two-pieces like free throws and attack the rim like a character from Space Jam: A New Legacy. And the Belgian rises to the occasion when the game is on the line.
Vervoort has all the qualities to dominate 3x3, which he did in spurts last year, and there is the promise of more to come in 2022. The quicker game of 3x3 compared to basketball took time to get used to but the frenetic style suited his energetic skill-set,
"You have to move the ball way quicker and sprint to the ball, play more aggressively on defense," he said.
But, in a scary warning for opponents, Vervoort is still learning the strategies behind 3x3, which are evolving every year as the 21-point game becomes more professional. An even better Vervoort could lift Antwerp into a powerhouse after they reached the semi-final on the World Tour four times, including at the Jeddah Final.
"The thing now that we need to be better at is the switching of offense into defense," he said. "I think what Amsterdam does really well is not playing that fast but really slow and moving their body in the right spaces," he said.
Having risen to superstardom quickly, Vervoort deserved a catchy nickname which is reserved for the very best 3x3 players.
Some didn't quite stick, but 'Must See TV' - after some initial reservations - has caught on for fans and Vervoort himself.
"I like 'Must See TV'. When I was younger I used to make jokes that I'm TV - because of my name - and people recognized it," he said. "None of the nicknames bother me but the one I got most used to is 'Must See TV'."
Whatever you want to call him, Thibaut Vervoort is ready to prove that his debut season was no fluke so you better not miss the hottest show going around.