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Emma Meesseman to play for Belgium in late May for EuroBasket Women 2017 training, according to report

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The forward is expected to play a few games with the Mystics before Belgium hosts a series of friendlies to prepare for EuroBasket Women 2017.

Emma Meesseman drives to the hoop against Sparks F Nneka Ogwumike. Stewart W. Small

One of the big questions about the 2017 Mystics season surrounds Emma Meesseman’s pending absence because of Belgium’s participation in EuroBasket Women 2017. And now, we have some answers.

According to BasketFeminin.com (link in French), Meesseman will report to Washington for the remainder of the Mystics’ training camp on May 10 after the Russian season is over. She will play in Washington until the Belgian national team has a tournament in Italy starting on May 26. Meesseman will then miss every Mystics game until EuroBasket Women is over on June 25. After, she should be back in Washington.

The Koninklijke Belgische Basketbalbond (link in Dutch) also listed an updated schedule of friendlies that we wrote about earlier. The schedule is below.

Belgium women's national basketball team pre EuroBasket schedule

Date Time Team Where
Date Time Team Where
May 20 2 p.m. ET Slovakia Kortrijk, West Flanders, Belgium
May 21 11 a.m. ET Slovakia Kortrijk, West Flanders, Belgium
May 26 to May 28 TBD Hungary, Italy, Russia Rome, Italy
June 2 2:30 p.m. ET Spain Wevelgem, West Flanders, Belgium
June 3 2:30 p.m. ET Spain Wevelgem, West Flanders, Belgium
June 10 12 p.m. ET Netherlands Ieper, West Flanders, Belgium

What this means for the Mystics

The good news is that Meesseman will play the first three or four regular season games and get a feel for what it’s like playing alongside Elena Delle Donne in particular. The two should make up a very fearsome frontcourt that will not be easy to match up against.

The bad news is that Meesseman will miss a lot of time in the first half of the season. Because of that, a frontcourt spot is up for grabs. Unfortunately, the frontcourt is a point of concern, especially with LaToya Sanders out for the year.

Also, there’s a “mind game” issue at play here. Meesseman may be in Washington, but her mind could be in Ieper instead. After all, Belgium starts training BEFORE she reports to the Mystics. And Belgium hasn’t made EuroBasket Women in 10 years. Meesseman is arguably the main reason why they are there.

I get that professional players are going to show up to work and do their jobs. But Meesseman’s mind may be thinking about a strong EuroBasket performance when you consider the historical significance of it. This is Belgium’s first trip in 10 years, and they still have their most accomplished player — Ann Wauters — on the roster as well.

What this means for Belgium

The Belgian Cats probably aren’t thrilled to see their best player missing a few weeks of their training camp because of the WNBA season. Belgium’s also playing a very tough lineup before EuroBasket Women itself. Sure, these games don’t count. But they’d rather have all hands on deck than be handicapped without their best player.

Fortunately for Belgium, they’ll have Meesseman for the Italian tournament AND their games against Spain. A probable beatdown of the non-EuroBasket Women bound Netherlands in front of Meesseman’s hometown fans is just icing on the cake for the Belgians and Meesseman herself.

My Final Take

I’m torn by this though most fans should have expected this for quite some time, if you’ve followed us chronicling Belgium’s EuroBasket Women journey that is.

I want to see Meesseman do well regardless, but EuroBasket Women is happening during an important season for the Mystics where they picked up several key players. I also hope that fans don’t under-appreciate her this season — even if the Mystics do well while she’s out.