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Recap: Emma Meesseman wins MVP honors after Belgium beats Nigeria and the USA beats Senegal in the final day of FIBA Women’s Olympic qualifiers

Now, it’s onto Paris for Team USA, the Belgian Cats and D’Tigresses of Nigeria.

BASKET-OLY-2024-QUALIFIER-BEL-SEN Photo by DIRK WAEM/Belga/AFP via Getty Images

The final day of the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament was held today. We will focus on the results in the pod of games in Antwerp, Belgium.

Belgium beats Nigeria, 78-61

Fenerbahçe and former Washington Mystics forward Emma Meesseman won MVP honors in the pod, scoring 14 points, grabbing 8 rebounds and dishing 8 assists in 27 minutes. Meesseman averaged 17.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 3.0 steals for the entire tournament.

And I’ll say it out loud: Meesseman was the best player in this pod, even if Team USA beat the Cats. She will be the best player in the Olympics in Paris. Whether Belgium is a medal favorite or not is another topic entirely. But again, Meesseman is the player to beat in these games.

In addition, Antonia Delaere added 15 points to lead the Cats while Mystics signee Julie Vanloo added 11 more.

For D’Tigresses, Amy Okonkwo scored 16 points to earn a spot on the All-Star team. While Nigeria shot 39 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three, the Cats forced them to commit 29 turnovers.

USA beats Senegal, 101-39

The outcome of this game was never in doubt. The Americans are much more talented than the Sengalese. Atlanta Dream guard Rhyne Howard led Team USA with 25 points while Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier added 22 more. Both came off the bench and were also named to the Olympic Qualifier All-Star team.

Washington Mystics guard Ariel Atkins played 16 minutes, scoring 2 points. For Senegal, Yacine Diop led with 14 points and was also named to the All-Star team.

Who made the Olympics?

There were more pods in Sopron, Hungary; Belem, Brazil; and Xi’an, China. Here are all the teams that made the Olympics from each pod, starting with the pod Team USA was in: Antwerp, Belgium.

Antwerp, Belgium pod

  • United States (FIBA Americas)
  • Belgium (FIBA Europe)
  • Nigeria (FIBA Africa)

Sopron, Hungary pod

  • Japan (FIBA Asia)
  • Spain (FIBA Europe)
  • Canada (FIBA Americas)

Belem, Brazil pod

  • Australia (FIBA Asia)
  • Serbia (FIBA Europe)
  • Germany (FIBA Europe)

Xi’an China pod

  • France (FIBA Europe)
  • China (FIBA Asia)
  • Puerto Rico (FIBA Americas)

How we cover the Olympic tournament

In the past, we have covered major international tournaments under the condition that a Mystics player makes an Olympic team (or a Washington Wizards player for men’s basketball). Vanloo will likely make the Mystics' opening-day roster, so Belgium is likely back as a team to follow.

As for Team USA, it depends on whether Ariel Atkins remains with the Mystics since WNBA free agency and trade season need to settle. I don’t think Atkins had the best performances in the qualifiers, but her experience on the worldwide stage should be enough to give her a ticket to Paris, in my opinion. So we should be spending time rooting for Team USA as well.