Philip Mestdagh after the perfect Eurobasket Qualifiers:”It’s only when you work hard that you will be ready to play against great teams”
The Belgian Cats finished undeafeted at the Eurobasket Qualifiers against the wins against Finland and Portugal. The opportunity for Philip Mestdagh, the national coach, to point out the work still to be done by his group. During the November window, Emma Meesseman (coronavirus) and Kyara Linskens (knee) were absent, this week it is, in addition to Linskens again, Julie Allemand (adductors) was also missing. “It’s a great experience to be forced to play without important players, because it forces us to find options. With Jana (Raman) who confirmed what she showed in Oostende at the pre-Olympic tournament and Billie Massey, for example, “explained Philip Mestdagh.
“Against Finland on Thursday it was a very decent game, but against Portugal, a team very well prepared to play against us, very physical and aggressive, we were in difficulty. We had too many losses of balls, worries rebound and organizational problems. Kyara Linskens is a post 5 that is necessary for us. The presence of Julie Allemand also allows other players to have less pressure “.
Philip Mestdagh knows that his group will have to work a lot more to achieve its goals. “We saw today that it was difficult against this kind of team. Among the teams qualified for the Euro, there are many Eastern European countries which also play in a very manly and aggressive way. So if the other teams see that it is enough to play very physical against us to put us in difficulty, it shows that we are fragile. We have to work a lot in this area. Because after this match, against Portugal, I don’t think so. not to a Euro medal. Really not. But I remain very confident because the preparation will be done against big teams and that will show how very hard we still have to work. ”
The Begique will most likely appear as the seed for the Euro draw on March 8. “It’s good, but be careful not to be in a comfort zone. It is not to our advantage. The group we have especially like challenges and challenges. Our first objective at the Euro is is to pass the first round and be in the top 6 (qualifier for a qualifying tournament for the World Cup, note) to try to go to the world championship next summer (in Australia) and ensure continuity for the national team. If there is room to have something more, we will obviously take it. ”
Jana Raman, precisely, who is still growing in power, was also confident. “We have two or three months left in our respective clubs to progress and then we will come back to train with the Cats. We have the Olympics in mind, and everyone is going to do extras because everyone is super motivated. train hard with a full squad and everyone will be ready. Against Portugal, we fought to the end and the most important thing is to have won. We want to stay on that feeling of have made a six out of six. ”
“But you have to confirm all the time, all the time,” continues Philip Mestdagh. “And it starts with training. You have to be able to train with that goal, to play the sub-top. And it’s only when you work hard that you will be ready to play for great teams. Because with all due respect for Portugal, this is not a team for the Euro. ” The Portuguese did not qualify, neither Ukraine nor Finland, the other two teams in the Belgian Cats qualifying group.