The FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup Qualifiers start this Thursday for the United States, Belgium, Puerto Rico and Russia. The first three teams will play games in Washington while Russia will participate next week in the Dominican Republic due to visa troubles with the American government.
It also gives us one last opportunity to give former Washington Wizards forward Emma Meesseman a grand send-off before she plays for the Chicago Sky this summer. We’ll or I (even if that’s the case, I don’t care!) will try to have something on her every day this week through Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET when Belgium plays the United States at the Entertainment and Sports Arena.
Emma Meesseman and the Belgian Cats are at the MedStar Health Performance Center and ESA, which should be renamed “EMMA’S SPORTS ARENA” this week!
Touched down in Washington ✌ #basketballbelgium #belgiancats #crelansport #omdathetkan pic.twitter.com/yQ5NJq8bUp— Belgian Cats (@TheBelgianCats) February 4, 2022
(Okay, I get that Events DC won’t rename ESA, but you get my fanboy-ish ness.)
That’s right, Meesseman is back in the States. And this time, she’s bringing her teammates on the Belgium women’s national team aboard with her. The Belgian Cats arrived earlier this week and hit the ground practicing and working out in the weight room at the MedStar Health Performance Center, where the Mystics, Wizards and Go-Go practice.
Great video above, maar ik heb been vraag voor de social media manager en de fotograaf van de Belgian Cats: WAAROM HEBBEN JULLIE DE KAMPIOENSBANNER VAN DE WASHINGTON WIZARDS/BULLETS VERBORGEN?!*
*That is “but I have a question for the Belgian Cats’ social media manager and photographer: Why did you hide the Wizards’/Bullets’ championship banner?!” in Dutch.
Anyway ... here are some pictures, and the Bullets’ name is visible (BUT STILL PARTIALLY OBSTRUCTED) behind Emma in one picture below.
First practice in the @WashMystics facilities in the books #basketballbelgium #belgiancats #crelansport #omdathetkan pic.twitter.com/OqiIhheJpr— Belgian Cats (@TheBelgianCats) February 6, 2022
We’ll get more in-depth about all the teams when we get closer to the qualifiers.
But either way, it’s surreal seeing the Belgian freaking Cats, not in Ieper, or Antwerp, or Brussels, or Brugge, or Mons. The national team that Emma made famous is here in WASHINGTON! I’m still awestruck that they’re all in the same hemisphere as me right now!
Team USA is back too and Elena Delle Donne is also back at practice
The Americans did their camp, apparently at Georgetown University, from watching this video below, given the “Big East” signage on the floor.
Positive Touches— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) February 6, 2022
Elena Delle Donne is back in limited practices for Team USA, though she won’t play on the team next week. She also is not playing against other teammates, partly in order to be ready for the WNBA season this summer.
Washington Mystics General Manager and Head Coach Mike Thibault, who is an assistant coach for training camp. also didn’t anticipate any minutes restrictions for Delle Donne, who has been pain-free for months. Guard Ariel Atkins is also part of camp and will likely be on the team for qualifiers this week.