Olympic qualifying tournament
What a shame about that last second. The Belgian Cats opened the Olympic qualifiers with a strong performance against America. The Belgian basketball players were in the lead for almost the entire match, but in a crazy finish, victory fell to the United States. In the last second, the score became 79-81 for the USA team. Tomorrow there will be an opportunity to take revenge on Senegal.
Team USA in world basketball is always David versus Goliath, even for the European champion. The Belgian Cats were also eventually without playmaker Julie Allemand, who survived a knee injury.
But backed by Antwerp's roaring Sportbales – 13,700, a record for a women's match in Belgium – the Cats didn't let that bother them. With Liszt and Munonga in the starting line-up, the Belgians started the match very strongly.
Emma Meeseman may have been in the clutches of the US defence, but that gave others room to shine. Vanlo did it with her usual three-pointers, Muninga and DeLaire with solid defense, and the star is nothing short of great on either side of the court.
There was a lot of turnover in Belgium, but that did not bother the team. Because the substitutes also made their presence felt: Rissimont, Joris and Ramet showed themselves from behind the three-point line.
What about Team USA? The American stars certainly weren't shining before halftime, with Navisa Collier the only bright spot. After a great first half, the Cats went into the dressing room with 9 points to spare, and the excited Sportpaleis were dreaming of an exciting adventure.
The poison is located in the tail
Even after the break, both teams maintained their rhythm in the beginning, although the burden of Belgian errors gradually began to weigh on their shoulders. The United States was allowed to go to the free throw line more and more and after Mononga pulled away with her fifth foul, a large piece of the rinta from the Belgians also disappeared.
They had to watch passively as Team USA slowly but surely closed the gap in the fourth quarter, although it could still go either way in a nerve-wracking finish.
At 79-79 and 4.5 seconds before the end of the game, the Americans had possession of the ball and that was enough to win, although the referees also played a decisive role in this.
They didn't see Kelsey Bloom get her foot on the goal line, and then Stewart scored the game-winning score in the final second of the game.
It's quite frustrating, although Belgian cats should try to remember the positive. Without two starting pawns, they set foot next to the big America on Thursday night, and Belgium also proved to be more than just their starting five.
Defeat against the United States should not be a disaster, because everything is still open for the Olympic ticket. When the Cats beat Senegal on Friday night, the qualifiers were complete. This, after all, is the main goal of this tournament.
Belgium: Vanloo 19, Lesson 17, Delaire 13, Munonga 8, Messiman 6, Becky Massey 4, Ramet 4, Joris 3, Rissimont 3, Geldof 2, Claessens 0. Allemand did not play.
Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Antwerp
In each of the four qualifying tournaments, 3 countries qualify for the Olympic Games. As world champions, the United States has already secured its place in the Belgian group. The top two countries besides America in this group can go to Paris 2024.
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