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Belgium splits games in pre-EuroBasket Women tournament

Let’s check in on Emma Meesseman who’s going to lead her national team in EuroBasket Women. It’s Belgium’s first trip in 10 years.

The Mystics are continuing their season without Emma Meesseman. However, Meesseman isn’t on vacation. She’s back in her home country to prepare for EuroBasket Women with the Belgian women’s national team, or the Belgian Cats. And with that, we’ll keep you posted on how she does there.

Let’s take a look at the roster on who’s playing this June, per the Koninklijke Belgische Basketbalbond (link in Dutch):

Belgium EuroBasket Women 2017 roster

Name Last Name Position Age on Dec 31 Height Birthplace Team City of Team
Name Last Name Position Age on Dec 31 Height Birthplace Team City of Team
Marjorie Carpreaux G 30 5'5 Boussou, Hainaut Mithra Castors Braine Braine L'Alleud/Eigenbrakel, Walloon Brabant, Belgium
Antonia Delaere F 23 6'0 Antwerp Mithra Castors Braine Braine L'Alleud/Eigenbrakel, Walloon Brabant, Belgium
Sofia Hendrickx F 31 6'2 Lier, Antwerp Province Belfius Namur Capitale Namur/Namen, Belgium
Kyara Linskens C 21 6'3 Brugge, West Flanders Belfius Namur Capitale Namur/Namen, Belgium
Noémie Mayombo G 26 5'8 Liège/Luik Mersin Mersin, Turkey
Emma Meesseman F/C 24 6'4 Ieper, West Flanders Washington Mystics Washington, DC, USA
Hanne Mestdagh G 24 5'10 Ieper, West Flanders Belfius Namur Capitale Namur/Namen, Belgium
Kim Mestdagh G 27 5'11 Ieper, West Flanders Yakin Dogu Istanbul, Turkey
Heleen Nauewelaers F 21 5'11 Duffel, Antwerp Province USO Mondeville Mondeville, France
Jana Raman F 26 6'1 Gent, East Flanders Kangoeroes Basket Willebroek Willebroek, Antwerp Province, Belgium
Julie Vanloo G 24 5'8 Oostende, West Flanders Virtus Ragusa Ragusa, Italy
Ann Wauters C 37 6'5 Sint-Gillis-Waas, East Flanders Bellona Agu Spor Kayseri, Turkey
Birthplace information is from

Who are the best Belgians on the roster?

The Belgians may enter EuroBasket this year as an unranked team, but that’s because they haven’t played in EuroBasket, the World Cup, or the Olympics in the last eight years.

Despite that, the team has many solid players under whose names aren’t Emma. Here are three players who you should be familiar with:

  • Ann Wauters - I’ll start with the oldest player on the roster. Wauters is known as the oldest player on the Belgian roster. She was the number one pick in the 2000 WNBA Draft to the Liberty but has been flaky in her WNBA commitments, like most European nationals. Her best season in the WNBA was in 2008 when she averaged 14.7 points and 7.5 rebounds where she and now Spurs-assistant coach Becky Hammon led the San Antonio Stars to the WNBA Finals.
  • Kim Mestdagh - Meesseman isn’t the only player from Ieper. Mestdagh also comes from here, along with her younger sister, Hanne. Let’s also add that Kim’s father, Philip is also the head coach of the team. Before you scream nepotism, Mestdagh is a great player in her own right. Last season, Mestdagh averaged 9.7 ppg and 2.4 apg while making nearly 40 percent of her threes in domestic league competition for Flammes Carolo Basket Ardennes in France. For the national team, Mestdagh averaged 16.8 ppg in EuroBasket qualifier play while adding 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per contest. If Meesseman isn’t doing well, expect to see Mestdagh draining threes left and right instead.
  • Julie Vanloo - The point guard averaged 10 ppg and 2.3 assists in qualifier play. She played the most after Meesseman, Wauters, and Kim Mestdagh.

What happened in friendlies so far?

Two wins against Slovakia

Before Meesseman reported to Belgium, the women’s team played two friendlies against EuroBasket-bound Slovakia in Kortrijk. Slovakia is also the country that Kristi Toliver is playing for, but she isn’t donning their colors for this EuroBasket cycle.

End result, two straight wins in two days. On May 20, they beat Slovakia in a 59-56 nailbiter as Mestdagh scored 12 points and Kyra Linskens scored 11 more. On the following day, the Cats won again, 66-57 as Kim Mestdagh led the way with 14 points.

Belgium went 1-2 in their key tournament based in Italy

After the games in Kortrijk, the Cats traveled to Italy to play a series of friendlies against more EuroBasket bound opponents.

Their first match was against Russia, where they lost, 57-48. Young Russian talent (and one of Meesseman’s former Spartak teammates) Maria Vadeeva scored 17 points and 12 rebounds in the game. Since Meesseman was traveling from Chicago to Italy at the time...

...perhaps this game may have been a little closer if she played.

The Cats’ second game was against Italy, the home team. Unfortunately, they lost again, 68-62. Meesseman did play in this game — coming off of jet lag, where she scored 8 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. After some rest, Meesseman bounced back to deliver a 17 point performance against Hungary in a 61-54 victory.

What lies ahead?

The most important matches are against Olympic silver medalist Spain on June 2 and 3, this Friday and Saturday. It will give a more accurate benchmark on where they stand against one of the world’s best teams. So far, Belgium lost most of their friendlies in Italy, in part because the competition is tougher than qualifiers. However, Belgium played teams relatively close so far, and they were missing two of their best players — Meesseman and Ann Wauters — before the tournament.

After the Spanish games, the Cats will go to Ieper, aka Meesseman’s hometown to host the Netherlands on June 10.

For now, they did get some rest doing some teambuilding activities in Nieuwpoort, West Flanders earlier this week:

One of the main activities was boat sailing. Looks like Meesseman knows how to win in the seas, as well as on the court!