On Monday April 8, the Koninklijke Belgische Basketbalbond announced the dates of Belgian women’s national team’s training camp and friendlies before the FIBA Women’s EuroBasket from June 27 through July 7, 2019 in Serbia and Latvia. The link is in Dutch, but here’s an English release from FIBA as well.
Training camp will start from May 17 to 24 in Kortrijk, West Flanders. After that, the team will travel to Japan from May 25 to June 3 where they will play two games against the Japanese national team.
Then we’ll see the Belgians play in some friendlies
- June 6-10 - tournament vs. Spain, Russia, Italy in Zaragoza, Spain (Belgium will play on June 8 and 9)
- June 14-16 - tournament vs. Spain, Canada, China in Brussels
- June 21 - home friendly vs. Italy in Wevelgem, West Flanders, Belgium
- June 22 - home friendly vs. Italy in Kortrijk, West Flanders, Belgium
It is not uncommon for international teams to play other countries outside the continent before a continental tournament. That’s because FIBA has the Women’s AmeriCup and Asia Cup this year as well.
What does it mean for the Mystics?
Any news on the Belgian team is going to have a significant impact on the Mystics. Emma Meesseman’s presence is one thing. But now, Kim Mestdagh is there as well.
Earlier this winter, Mestdagh reportedly told Belgian Dutch language media that she would report to the Mystics on May 24, just one day before the regular season starts on the road against the Sun. Since she would miss training camp, Mestdagh either made the team outright OR Washington could waive her. I doubt she’d be “waived upon arrival.”
While WNBA players have left their teams midseason for EuroBasket and other continental tournaments, they typically played stateside until the days immediately around the tournament. Belgium on the other hand is playing for the entire month of June.
Let’s say Mestdagh skips the trip to Japan. If she were to leave in June and play in all tournaments in Europe, she would spend less than two weeks in D.C. before going back there. It’s highly disruptive, just like what we saw in Washington in 2017 with Meesseman.
We haven’t heard Meesseman’s specific plans on EuroBasket, but the Belgians are in the “Group of Death” according to FIBA’s Paul Nilsen. The Belgians don’t want to lay a goose egg after their rapid rise in the world rankings and that’s going to put pressure on Meesseman and Mestdagh to prepare with the Belgians first, then worry about the WNBA later.
Personally, I’d like to see as few disruptions as possible. I hope that Meesseman and Mestdagh show up at the beginning of the season and skip most of the Belgians’ tournaments in June. But I’m also not one who is against a player playing for her country and doing whatever she can to put her team in a successful position.