They had to work hard, very hard, but the Belgian Cats have qualified for the semi-finals of the European Championship. In a very exciting quarterfinal, our women’s basketball were too strong for Russia with 85-83. Emma Meesseman was once again the star with 33 points. For a place in the final, the Cats play against Serbia, which beat Spain.
Serbia eliminated Spain in the semi-finals and host country and European champions. The Belgian Cats will therefore compete against the Serbs to qualify for the final for the first time. “After this wonderful performance, we are going for the final,” said national coach Philip Mestdagh. The Belgian Cats opened the first quarter very strongly. Emma Meesseman was flashy, showed her class and Kim Mestdagh immediately dropped a bomb: 9-3. The entire base five, including Kyara Linskens, Julie Allemand and Antonia Delaere, quickly scored and at 15-5 the Cats already had a solid bonus in their pocket.
However, the good start was interrupted by the error burden of Kyara Linskens. Maria Vadeeva took advantage and Russia found the connection with a 0-7 intermediate sprint: 19-16 and 21-20. Billie Massey also had three fouls to her name against Maria Vadeeva. The Russian center and teammate of Emma Meesseman at Ekaterinburg, remained strong in the paint and after 25-21, Russia, including Nina Glonti, took the initiative after 27-27: 27-33. The Cats showed character, Julie Vanloo dropped a bomb, Kim Mestdagh came in double figures and Julie Allemand made tempe: 36-37. A great Emma Meeseman (18 points) and Julie Allemand on the buzzer made for a 43-37 Belgian bonus halfway through.
Nina Glonti fired bombs and despite a three-pointer from Emma Meesseman, Russia found the connection after 50-41: 53-52. However, the duo Emma Meesseman and Kim Mestdagh pushed the Belgian women to a 63-58 score after three quarters. The Russian bombardment continued in the closing quarter with now Anastasia Shilova: 68-68. Kim Mestdagh with a three-pointer, Emma Meesseman and Kyara Linskens made it 77-73 with 4 minutes left on the game clock! Antonia Delaere neat the 79-73 and the Cats were on track towards the semi-finals at the start of money-time.
The Russians fought their way back into the game with three-pointers: 81-79. After Belgian loss of the ball, Raisa Musina scored the 83-83 score with only 41 seconds left on the clock. Julie Allemand scored the 85-83 5 seconds from the end and Russia fled in a time-out, but failed to score in the final seconds. Emma Meesseman (33 points, 11 rebounds) with a double-double, Kim Mestdagh (19 points, 3 on 4 bombs), Julie Allemand (9 points, 6 assists), Antonia Delaere (6 points, 8 assists), Kyara Linskens ( 13 points, 5 rebounds) were the stars of a strong and collective strong Belgium.
Belgium: K. MESTDAGH 10-9, DELAERE 4-2 MEESSEMAN 18-15, LINSKENS 2-11, ALLEMAND 6-3, H. Mestdagh 0-0, Geldof 0-0, Nauwelaers 0-0, Bi. Massey 0-0, Vanloo 3-2
Russia: MUSINA 2-8 VADEEVA 16-14, SHILOVA 2-9, KOMAROVA 3 -0, LEVCHENKO 5-6, Kurilchuk 0-0, Goldyreva 1-0, Shilova 2-9, Glonti 8-9, Shtanko 0-0,
Quartz: 21-20, 22-17, 20-21, 22-25
On Saturday, the selection of national coach Philip Mestdagh will play for a place in the final against Serbia or two-time defending champions Spain. Belarus will face France in the other semifinal. The entire final phase of the European Championship will be finished in Valencia.
Belgium is also immediately certain of participating in the qualifying tournaments for the 2022 World Cup in Australia. That is reserved for the top six of the tournament.
The Belgian Cats had qualified directly for the quarter-finals by winning group C. They started with a loss against Bosnia and Herzegovina (70-55) but then won against Slovenia (92-57) and Turkey (63-61). Russia was second in its group behind France and first had to play a jump-off against Slovenia (93-75).
In 2017, the Belgian women conquered European Championship bronze in Prague, in 2019 they had to content themselves with a fifth place in Belgrade.