The Belgium women’s national basketball team plays the Netherlands on Saturday. Here’s a preview before we make this a more light hearted affair of Belgian vs. Dutch things.
Where: Saturday, June 10 in Ieper, West Flanders, Belgium at 12 p.m. ET.
Streaming: None as of now.... FIBA has a live box score available though.
UPDATE: TIB.tv will live stream it!!!!!!
FIBA’s on the Belgian Bandwagon
According to this FIBA article of unofficial EuroBasket Women power rankings, Belgium ranks sixth of the 16 teams in the tournament. Therefore, let’s not be too surprised if they make it to the quarterfinals.
What to look for in the game
Can Belgium speed up the tempo and play their way?
The Belgians weren’t able to play their way against Spain. Then again, Spain is one of the best teams in the world after the USA. But I’d like to see Belgium run up and down, and play more freely like they did against Poland during the EuroBasket qualifiers?
Can the shooting game improve?
The last two games against Spain were tough challenges for the Cats. The good news about those games is that they know where they stand. The second match against Spain was a blowout at the Cats’ expense. However, the first game also shows that they have the ability to make things interesting, even when their shots aren’t falling like they were during qualifiers.
The Orange Angels won’t be as easy of a blowout as we assume
The Netherlands hasn’t been in EuroBasket Women in nearly 30 years. But that doesn’t mean that the Dutch ... aren’t much.
Numerous Dutch players have played here in America for NCAA Division I teams in recent years. Also, Syracuse women’s basketball head coach Quentin Hillsman was an assistant of the Dutch U19 teams that made the 2013 and 2015 World Championships. Their performances helped the Netherlands achieve a FIBA Top 20 girls ranking.
As for the senior national team, the Netherlands did well in their qualifiers, though they were in a tougher group than Belgium. The Dutch were in a pool that included France and Croatia, which are better tougher than Belarus and Poland, the teams Belgium played. The Orange Angels didn’t make EuroBasket of course, and France destroyed them. But they beat Croatia once in qualifiers, which ultimately spelled the Croatians’ doom from making EuroBasket this year.
Like Belgium, the Netherlands improved within Europe. That’s remarkable because neither the Netherlands or Belgium has a strong basketball league, and neither country gives out passports to foreigners like the Philippines did for Andray Blatche.
Though the Netherlands is rising, they still don’t have an Emma Meesseman like player and they were in a tougher qualifier group than Belgium. If you switched the two around, I wouldn’t be totally shocked to see Meesseman playing for the Mystics right now, while the Dutch play with house money in EuroBasket Women.
Some things on Belgium and the Netherlands
If you’ve been reading any of our pieces about Emma Meesseman and the Belgian national team, you’ll see the words “Dutch” and “the Netherlands” quite a bit. In short, it’s because these two countries share a lot of history and culture with each other. Consider this:
- Most Belgians speak Dutch as their first language - That includes Meesseman herself. That’s contrary to popular belief that French is the majority language. French is an official language, the primary language spoken in Brussels, and a large minority speak it as their first language. But again, most Belgians speak the same Dutch that folks in Holland do.
- The two countries set up a Dutch language union - In 1980, Belgium and the Netherlands set up the Nederlandse Taalunie, a formal language institution that defines standard Dutch from words to grammar. Formalized language unions aren’t uncommon by the way. French and Spanish have them, but English does not.
- Belgium and the Netherlands have been the same country multiple times - Modern day Belgium declared independence from the Netherlands in 1830, but its history with its northern neighbor goes back much longer than that. Before the Eighty Years’ War and the Dutch Golden Age, the land that’s now the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Northern France were known as the Seventeen Provinces or the Habsburg Netherlands from 1482-1581. The Dutch capital in those days? Brussels! In 1568, seven northern provinces from Zeeland to Holland and Groningen seceded from the Brussels government. Those northern provinces are more or less the country we know as the Netherlands today.
- The CEO of Heineken is ... Belgian! - Belgians have an irrational disdain for Heineken in part because they claim they’re the best at brewing beer. But the CEO of Heineken International is Belgian. Jean François van Boxmeer has been the Dutch brewery’s boss since 2005 where he’s made Heineken the second biggest brewing company in the world. The first? Leuven-based AB In-Bev. Maybe Belgians will start appreciating those green bottles a little more? Apparently, van Boxmeer thinks so.
A playful take on which country does it better
Though Belgium and the Netherlands share the same language and historical culture, they still are distinct regions. So let’s compare some Belgian vs. Dutch things. Which country does things better? Here’s a very subjective list.
Better food - Belgium
Belgium is the country where waffles, mussels, and French Fries originated. It’s also the Mecca of luxury chocolatiers. The most notable Dutch food I can think of is Gouda cheese and Gouda stroopwafels. They’re both good, but Belgian food’s better. End of story.
Better drink - Belgium
Heineken has the brand. No one’s going to deny that. But those Belgian brewers certainly win on the quality front. :)
Better major cities - Netherlands
Amsterdam is a tourist haven for those who like to visit art museums, tulip fields, or to party. Rotterdam, which is about 50 miles south has a very modern layout and is home to Europe’s biggest harbor. Belgium has Brussels, which is the European Union’s de facto capital. But I wouldn’t say that people love to party in Brussels as much as they would in Amsterdam.
Better music - Netherlands
Many Dutch music artists have hit it big in America, especially with electronic dance music. Whether it’s 2 Unlimited, who sang “Get Ready 4 This,” the Vengaboys who sang “We Like to Party,” Yellow Claw with “Open,” or Martin Garrix with “There for You”
Even with Dutch-language music, Dutch musicians seem to do very well in Belgium. Boef (pronounced Boof like Roof) is one of the most popular rappers in both countries. One of his latest songs, “Habiba” topped the charts at home and was third in Flanders:
That said, the Belgian Cats may have their own favorite rapper
In the East Coast of the USA, we had the late Notorious B.I.G., a/k/a Biggie Smalls.
In East Flanders of Belgium, they have Woodie Smalls. This is one of his songs, “Lucky Strike,” which is in English (NSFW language):
Woodie Smalls (real name Sylvestre Salumu) is from Sint-Niklaas, a suburb of Antwerp. His older brother Jean is a swingman who plays for Telenet BC Oostende in Meesseman’s home province of West Flanders.
And it gets better. Jean is on the Belgium men’s national basketball team!
Don’t believe me? You can see the brothers play some one on one in this video below (in Dutch):
Funfact: de broer van Woodie Smalls heet Jean Salumu en is één van de beste Belgische basketspelers. Vanmorgen gingen ze de strijd met elkaar aan op onze VRT-parking!Posted by Studio Brussel on Monday, September 19, 2016
Emma gets to play at home. So do fellow teammates Kim and Hanne Mestdagh. And the coach, Philip Mestdagh (Kim’s and Hanne’s father) is also from Ieper.
I think the Dutch will put up a fight, but it won’t be enough in front of a pro West Flemish crowd.
Belgium should finish their last friendly with a comfortable win.