We have good news and bad news with the Mystics players who participated in the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
First, the good news! Team USA beat Serbia, 88-69 on Thursday in their match in Belgrade.
First, let’s get to the Americans’ match. Ariel Atkins, in her debut for the red, white and blue, scored 8 points on 3-of-5 shooting, while also draining 2-of-4 shots from the three-point line. A’ja Wilson led Team USA with 60 points while Mystics alumna Jelena Brooks (née Milovanovic) scored 13 points to lead the Serbians.
As you might have guessed, the American defense was strong as they held Serbia to just 35.7 percent shooting. This game nearly guarantees that Team USA should come out of the qualifiers undefeated since Mozambique and Nigeria have noticeably weaker squads.
And now, let’s get to the bad news. Belgium lost, 61-56 to Canada at home in Oostende.
Emma Meesseman scored 14 points to lead Belgium while Kim Mestdagh added 12 more for the Cats. However, Mestdagh shot just 2-of-10 from the field in the first half and wasn’t her trademark self from three. Furthermore, the Belgians shot just 32.79 percent from the field and looked sluggish.
The Canadians were led by New York Liberty guard Kia Nurse who scored 19 points, though she also shot 5-of-18 from the field to get there. In short, the Belgians should take pride in the fact that they hung in there with a Top-5 team in Canada. However, their Olympic hopes are on the line, especially if they lose to Sweden, the lowest-ranked team in their group on Sunday.
Both Belgium and the USA will play on Saturday. Belgium plays Japan at 11:55 a.m. ET. I know Rui Hachimura wants you to support his team, but Japan’s already in! We’re rooting for Emma and Kim here!
And for the USA, they will play Mozambique at 1:50 p.m. ET.