The Belgian cats trained for the last time today for their opening match next night (Belgium) in the Basketball World Cup in Australia. The opponent is the first candidate, the United States. The United States may not be able to play at full strength yet, because some players are still missing after the WNBA Final.
Emma Messman knows: “They’re not done yet.” “So if you want to have a chance, you might be at the start of the tournament. But the United States remains the favourite.”
Julie Vanlow agrees. “Maybe the first match is the best time to play against the United States. Who knows, there could be a surprise, we can play without pressure.”
The latter may also suit Belgian cats. Messman realizes: “Just as the United States is not yet fully regulated, so we are still.” “For the rest of the tournament, it might be good to play an extra game without too much pressure. But I want to continue with it.”
Just like the American players, Emma Meeseman and Julie Allemand missed a large part of their World Cup preparations. “Our preparation was a little unusual,” Vanlow explains. “Emma and Julie just arrived.”
“The question now is whether the World Cup is coming too soon or whether we are really at the top. We are still working hard on our dynamics and the coach asks us.”
Compared to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the essence of the Belgian cats has changed radically. “It’s a young, inexperienced group that hasn’t got the feel of an underdog, and that’s not a gift either,” says Messman. “So I don’t really know what to expect from him. We’re taking it step by step.”
The atmosphere in the training is really good. “It’s a very nice group with a good mix between young and old,” Vanlo says. “The group is very close to each other. There is a breath of fresh air, I enjoy a lot and the mutual respect is great. This is the basis for good performance, and I hope the results will follow.”
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