With the WNBA season over last September, it’s easy for women’s basketball fans here in the United States to focus on women’s college basketball. Fans know that many players play abroad, but don’t know much about the competition there.
The Mystics are no different, but so far, most players, including their key pieces from the 2017 semifinals team are still stateside. Some like Elena Delle Donne, just got married and choose not to play overseas. Others, like Tayler Hill, are recovering from injury.
But for Emma Meesseman, this is the start of another major journey in her international basketball profile, at least among European fans. The first cycle of EuroBasket Women 2019 qualifiers began for Belgium (and 31 other nations). Though they won bronze last June in EuroBasket Women 2017, some may still be wondering if it’s just a one-hit wonder by the Belgians, or the start of a true Golden Age.
After their first two game qualifier stretch, Belgium is clearly in a Golden Age. The EuroBasket Women 2017 performance wasn’t a fluke. Last Saturday, Belgium began their qualifier run by beating Switzerland, 85-56 on the road in Fribourg. And on Wednesday, they blew out Germany, 103-60 at home in Kortrijk. You can watch
Here are some takeaways, with a focus on Meesseman’s opponents.
What can we take away from this?
Meesseman is a machine against most European opponents
On the Mystics, Meesseman is often viewed as an automatic scorer when she shoots, basically Otto Porter on steroids. So far, Meesseman shot over 75 percent in both games in qualifiers while taking at least 14 shots in each game. Meesseman also drained three three-point shots in Wednesday’s contest against Germany. When it’s all said and done, Meesseman’s averaging 28.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3 assists in the first two games of qualifiers. Basically, Meesseman thinks every team she’s playing is the Netherlands right now.
I get that Switzerland and Germany aren’t the first names we think of when it comes to women’s basketball. But, you’d think their defenses would swarm Meesseman and force someone else to score more points. Unfortunately, the Swiss and Germans couldn’t stop her from producing the way she did in under 30 minutes a game.
Belgium should cruise to EuroBasket Women 2019
No one should be surprised that Belgium won their first two games by double digits. But I am impressed at just how thoroughly the Belgians dominated Switzerland and Germany from start to finish.
The West Flemish crowd loves their “Belgian Cats”
Belgium hosted their first game of qualifiers in Kortrijk, West Flanders in front of a sold out crowd that even included a custom-made basketball court like you can see below.
A new mascot named Cathy...
So, this is the Belgian WBB National Team’s mascot. I was hoping for sharp teeth. pic.twitter.com/h8WKEnskjr— Albert Lee (@aleeinthedmv) November 16, 2017
And plenty of highlights where Emma scored with ease.
There were plenty of highlights like this for Emma Meesseman last night. (Video from Basket Belgium’s IG) pic.twitter.com/24cTVGheBN— Albert Lee (@aleeinthedmv) November 16, 2017
Next up for the Belgians: the Czech Republic
Belgium may be the new darlings of Europe, but the Czech Republic is an established power in women’s basketball. Like Belgium, they played and defeated Switzerland and easily. I’m also kinda interested to see how Czech (and former Mystics) center Kia Vaughn matches up against the Belgian team as well. They will face off against each other on February 10 in Prague in their next qualifier. Then, on February 14, they’ll host Switzerland in Kortrijk.