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Women’s basketball team qualifies for Olympics
Both players and fans went wild yesterday when the Belgian Cats qualified for the summer Olympic Games for the first time. The women’s basketball team had the pleasure of playing the qualifier tournament in their home turf of Ostend.
The win over Sweden yesterday has assured the team a place at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer. While the Cats were expected to win, the first half was a nail-biter, ending with the Cats trailing Sweden by two points.
They pulled ahead in the third quarter, however, ultimately winning the game 61-53. Star player Emma Meesseman shot 24 points for the team, more than twice as many as the next player, Kyara Linskens, with 11 points. She went on to be named Most Valuable Player of the tournament, averaging 20 points and six rebounds per game.
“The fans brought the storm right inside here with them,” says Meesseman after the game, referring to storm Ciara, which was raging on the Flemish coast outside. “We know that Sweden plays a good first half and does less well in the second half. We came out in the second half knowing what we needed to improve.”
While many of the Belgian women have careers abroad playing for other teams – Meesseman plays power forward for the Washington Mystics in the US – they come together for the Olympic qualifiers. They will head to Tokyo representing Belgium.
“We don’t know how that feels yet,” said Meesseman, 26, about the team’s first Olympic outing. “Arriving in Japan will be the climax of a project we’ve been working towards for years.”
The men’s basketball team, the Belgian Lions, did not qualify for the Summer Olympic Games, which kick off on 24 July in Tokyo.
Photo courtesy Belgian Cats