Editor’s Note: Here’s a joint preview on tomorrow’s EuroBasket Women quarterfinal between Belgium and Italy by Elle. After, some general insights from Albert. Enjoy!
Emma Meesseman and the Belgian national team take on Italy, their quarterfinal opponent at 6:30 a.m.. ET, Thursday morning in Prague. You can watch the game on LiveBasketball.TV (subscription required).
The Belgians earned an extra day of rest by sweeping all three teams in Group D, Montenegro, Russian and Latvia last Monday. So they should be fully rested for tomorrow’s game.
Belgium vs. Italy: Team stats
|QF Match||FG %||3PT %||FT %|
|QF Match||FG %||3PT %||FT %|
Here is the straight up comparison on how the teams are shooting, although Italy played one extra game, four total, to make it to the QF.
But this is really where the rubber meets the road. This is the comparison of the top three players on both teams, below.
Belgium’s “Big Three”
Let’s just compare them to Italy’s best three, below:
Italy’s “Big Three”
In case anyone has forgotten what the Mystics talent looks like in real time, check out these Meesseman European highlights from over the winter and spring, below.
At this stage of the tournament, the stakes could not be higher. Belgium must win this game for an entrance to the World Cup next year in Spain without stressing over the fifth place bracket.
Speaking of which, if they do beat Italy, they will no doubt face the Spanish national team on Saturday. Or if there is an upset, they will face Latvia once again.
But for now, here is what the Italian team looked like in their one point win over Courtney Vandersloot’s Hungary, below.
Italy can definitely get going, but composure is what it takes to get to the next level. Belgium have most certainly showed that over the course of their three wins, all of them were won in the last minute. Total grit!
I am pretty sure that Meesse is stoked about how well the Cats are doing!
OMG!!!!! Quarter Finals!!! so proud of these girls!!!!!!! Thanks fir all the support so far!— Emma Meesseman (@EmmaMeesseman) June 19, 2017
The winners, and losers in EuroBasket Women 2017
by Albert Lee
Winner: Belgium - I think most would predict that Belgium would at least play for a quarterfinal spot. But Belgium beat all three teams in group play in four days. The wins themselves may be gritty, but the Cats also know how to make highlight reel plays from time to time.
Even if Belgium loses their remaining games, they’re still winners. Very few expected them to make it this far. That said, I think they will clinch a World Cup berth when it’s all said and done.
Winner: Emma Meesseman - Call her passive, or dispassionate at your own peril. She has the second highest scoring average (19.7 ppg) heading into the quarterfinals.
Winner: Ieper, West Flanders - Four people on the Belgian team: Meesseman, Kim Mestdagh, Hanne Mestdagh, and head coach Philip Mestdagh call Ieper home. I don’t know what’s in the water in that town, but I know this much. It produces some damn good basketball talent.
People worldwide make an annual pilgrimage to Ieper because it was the site of major battles in World War I. Now, I think we’ll need to make pilgrimages to Ieper to learn about the School of Meessemanic Thought.
Winner: USA Basketball women’s national team - The Americans earned their World Cup berth by winning the Olympics last year. Though they have the talent to win it all once again, they have a new head coach in Dawn Staley, AND they have to figure out who replaces the Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, and Tamika Catchings trio that stayed together for well over a decade.
With Serbia and Russia now out of the World Cup picture, that should make things a little easier for them as the American roster ideally gets a youth makeover.
Loser: Serbia - The defending EuroBasket Women winners lost to Latvia, 75-70 on Tuesday in a quarterfinal qualifier. That loss prevents the 2016 Olympic bronze medalists from going to the World Cup next year.
Loser: Russia - Belgium’s toughest Group D opponent lost to Greece, 62-58 on Tuesday in their quarterfinal qualifier. For a team that’s regularly one of the best in Europe, this is a disappointment.
Losers: American WNBA players who naturalized for other countries - There are several Americans who are playing for some EuroBasket teams. Kia Vaughn is a Czech citizen now. Courtney Vandersloot is playing for Hungary. And Epiphanny Prince plays for Russia.
All three of their teams are supposed to contend for a quarterfinals spot. In Prince’s case But their teams are eliminated in EuroBasket and won’t be in next year’s World Cup.
Meanwhile, Meesseman and Belgium still have a shot at the World Cup. Do you want to know how many Americans are on that team? Zero. That’s amazing, considering that basketball isn’t very popular in Belgium compared with the rest of the countries in the quarterfinals.
Who else is in the quarterfinals?
Here are the other three quarterfinal games:
- Turkey vs. Greece, 9 a.m. ET
- Spain vs. Latvia, 12 p.m. ET
- France vs. Slovakia, 2:30 p.m. ET