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Belgium blows out Poland, 100-63 in EuroBasket qualifier, media takes notice of Meesseman

Emma Meesseman played like a beast. And the Belgians are due for a higher FIBA ranking... like really soon.

The Belgian Cats beat the 37th ranked Polish national team, 100-63 on Saturday on its home stomping grounds in Namur, Wallonia on Saturday for a EuroBasket 2017 qualifier.

Emma Meesseman played nearly 37 minutes when she exploded for 29 points and 14 rebounds in the win. In Mystics-like fashion, she shot 14 of 18 from the field and made one of two three point attempts.

The key run in the game was the third quarter when Belgian guard Kim Mestdagh scored seven straight points to start the second half, eliminating any hope for a Polish comeback. Mestdagh also made six of the Cats' ten three-pointers in the game, where they shot 43.5 percent from deep.

The Polish were led by center Ewelina Kobryn who scored 16 points but only grabbed three rebounds. Kobryn is a former WNBA player, where she played the 2011 and 2012 seasons with the Seattle Storm and the 2014 season with the Phoenix Mercury where she won a WNBA title.

Though the Belgian Cats have not punched their ticket to the EuroBasket tournament just yet, the good news is that they won two big games in just over half a week. And it's clear that Meesseman is showing signs that she can take over important games.

Sure, the win against the Netherlands doesn't count for EuroBasket purposes, but I'm still banking on the Dutch becoming relevant in Europe real soon given their high girls' teams rankings, just like I have said with the Belgians.

Bonus: The Belgian media really likes the Meesseman and Ann Wauters front court duo

Meesseman is Belgium's best basketball player. But you knew that already. She isn't the first WNBA player from Belgium though, since long-time veteran Ann Wauters also played a number of seasons in the U.S. and was the European player of the year five times between 2001 and 2008.

The combination of both players instantly makes the Belgian Cats a much more dangerous team in FIBA Europe than before. They got a couple media mentions in Dutch-speaking Flanders, where both are from. Most of the Belgian basketball sites we have seen were in French instead.

Both Meesseman and Wauters were on Flemish-news show "De Afspraak" on Thursday on Canvas, a public broadcasting channel. You can watch the entire 32-minute video here (only available until around February 22), but so you know, they're only speaking in Dutch.

The show talks about politics and the recent attacks in Turkey in the beginning, but at the 21-minute mark, we finally get to the part where you'll see them talking basketball.

After the show, the Belgian posts took a selfie:

On Friday, Het Laatste Nieuws, a Dutch language Brussels newspaper had a feature on both players. I couldn't find an online link to the article, but here's a tweet to show that it was there.

There are two quotes that stand out in the picture. The quotes basically emphasize what we have been saying during this offseason: Meesseman is good, but how aggressive and dominant can she be?

The quote that is next to Wauters (on the left) says "Emma is better than I am" in Dutch while the quote next to Meesseman (on the right) says "I still look up to Ann."

I'm not surprised that Wauters would say that Meesseman is better than her. After all, she is now 35-years old and well past her prime. Meesseman is just 22 and the analytics tell us that she is a Top-10 WNBA player based on those alone.

You can read Meesseman's quote in one of two ways. The positive way to view things is that she looks up to Wauters because of her past success as a player. You can argue that Wauters' presence on the Belgian Cats is "Paul Pierce-like" while Meesseman would be the "John Wall" since she is the best player.

But people who don't think Meesseman is capable of being a WNBA superstar could easily point at a quote like that and say "Man, Emma still doesn't get that she's a veteran herself now." I'm not going to lean one way or the other, but that was something interesting I noticed right away from those money quotes.

How do we interpret this for the 2016 Mystics season?

If Meesseman plays this summer like she did for Belgium over the past half week, then the Mystics have their superstar. But I'm not sure if she will be allowed to play like she does for Belgium in Washington with other veteran players around her -- most of whom have been with her since the beginning of her WNBA career.

At the same time, when Belgium starts moving up those FIBA rankings, Mike Thibault will break cold sweats because she may miss games for her country. I doubt he believed that Belgium would be playing this well against other European teams this soon, if ever. But then again, Thibault has an eye for international talent, and her draft selection just shows how good he is at finding players anywhere in the draft who can make a difference in the pros.

UPDATE: I think you'll like this photo:

What a game! Thanks ladies for a great night!!! #BelgianCats #WIN

A photo posted by Emma Meesseman (@emma_meesseman) on