DELFT (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019) - This is the year when everything changes in international basketball. This is the year when FIBA's new system of competition comes into play.
Over a four-year cycle from 2017 through 2021, national teams will play regular home and away games to qualify for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup and the 2021 FIBA Continental Cups.
The Dutch must survive a perilous European Pre-Qualifying campaign in August, one that will see them play Austria and Albania at home and away. If the Netherlands - who are among the favorites to reach the World Cup Qualifiers - are unsuccessful, it will be a huge setback for basketball in the country.
"We're not going to the European Championship [FIBA EuroBasket 2017] this year which means we do have to take the pre-qualification for the World Cup very seriously," Van Helfteren said to FIBA.com.
"If we don't qualify, then we're out of international competition for the next two or three years. We are taking this very, very seriously."
In their European Pre-Qualifying campaign, the Dutch will travel to Austria for a game on August 5 and then return home to face Albania four days later. The Dutch will host Austria on August 16 before finishing at Albania three days later.
If they are successful, the windows for home and away World Cup qualifying games will be November 20-28, February 19-27 (2018), June 25- July 3, September 10-18, November 26- December 4 and February 20-28 (2019).
The Netherlands got a taste of the big time when they qualified for EuroBasket 2015. They put basketball on the map in their homeland by going up against some very good teams like Greece, Croatia and Georgia.
"If we play in November, in February, it gives us a better chance for television, more time on television, that kind of stuff, and draw more attention to the game than in the summers." - Van Helfteren
"You can look at this two ways," he said. "First as a coach, I prefer the summer (competition) because then your preparations are much longer. Playing in season doesn't give you a lot of time to prepare for the games. That's one way to look at it. But the other way to look at it as an organization is that the summer is not necessarily the best time of the year to draw attention to basketball in Holland while playing in season might help us in public relations in Holland.
"If we play in November, in February, it gives us a better chance for television, more time on television, that kind of stuff, and draw more attention to the game than in the summers."
One way to combat having less preparation time during the year will be to have players that are familiar with each other, the coach and his tactics.
"What always made it fun for me as a player is playing with the same guys over and over," he said. "You could count on the same nucleus of players being there. This gives you the advantage as a coach to be able to restart things quicker.
"The players recognize it faster and it helps to prepare quicker for the in-season games. That's exactly what we're trying to."
When the Netherlands lost a crucial home game to Germany last year, it prevented them from making it back to a second straight EuroBasket. There is still some frustration that last year's 4-2 record was not good enough, yet there is also optimism.
"There is a little bit of disappointment but we are confident that we will be back," Van Helfteren said.
"The next European Championship is a long way but right now, we're focused on the World Cup qualification and being there for the real qualification first and then see if we can surprise and move on to the year after that for the real qualification."