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Belgian Cats tip off Olympic Qualifiers with a loss

Rough.
One word which sums up this opening game of our Belgian Cats against Canada.

The very physical approach of Canada halted the usual fluid offense of our Cats and after the opening half the low score of 30-23 stood on the scoreboard in advantage of Canada. A highly misleading score as our Cats really had been off their game pretty much the entire first half and had only gotten themselves back in the game in the closing minutes when they suddenly found their usual rhythm and placed a 0-9 run.

In the second half it was again Canada that got off to the better start and placed a 6-0 run of their own to put a halt to our Cats’ momentum and drag them back down to their slow physical half-court basketball. Mestdagh and Delaere were loosening up though and continued to fight to keep our Cats within reach. When Meesseman then got free for a three and Raman hit another three a couple of minutes later to beat the buzzer at the end of the 3rd Quarter our Cats were still in a good position to close out this game (46-42).

The rough evening for our Cats continued however and Canada placed a dry 5-0 run to again deflate our Cats’ momentum for the 9 point lead with 6 minutes left to play. And then came the next push by our Cats, fueled by Mestdagh, Delaere and Meesseman to inch their way back and when Kim found her sister Hanne in the corner for three the lead had been cut to a mere 2 points (58-56).

Unfortunately basketball is a game of runs and it was Canada who had the final one to win their first game of the 2020 Olympic Qualifying tournament with the 61-56 final score.

For our Cats it was Emma Meesseman who had to fight through constant double-teaming to lead the way with her 14 pts & 6 rebs, while Kim Mestdagh overcame a rough shooting first half to finish with 12 pts, 7 rebs & 4 asts. Antonia Delaere gave our Cats hope when they needed it the most and ended this game with 8 pts.

Next up for our Cats is Japan (on Saturday) who easily defeated Sweden in their opening game, while on Sunday the Belgian Cats will square off with Sweden. Two pretty much must-win games for our Cats…
… so to all Belgian fans, show them your support, cheer for your team and especially when they’re struggling like they did on several occasions today. They will need their 6th man to continue to make history.

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