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And now to the Play?

Belgian basketbalvrouwen close to world’s best with fourth place at the world CHAMPIONSHIPS

And now to the Play?

A year after the European bronze surprised Belgium as a world cup debutant with a fourth place on the global stage. Can this team at Tokyo 2020 the big dream of pioneer Ann Wauters deliver?

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The Belgian Cats continue to be disappointed after their loss in the small final against host Spain. Virginie Lefour/belga

Belgian basketbalvrouwen close to world’s best with fourth place at the world CHAMPIONSHIPS

And now to the Play?

A year after the European bronze surprised Belgium as a world cup debutant with a fourth place on the global stage. Can this team at Tokyo 2020 the big dream of pioneer Ann Wauters deliver?

BasketbalWereldkampioenschap

Patrick Ceulemans, Marc Vermeiren

TenerifeHet course of the Belgians, had something like a fairy tale, although it was with a (light)bitter pill at the end. But as a debutant in the semi-final, which the later world champion United States was too strong, kicking and on the road win against powerhouses Spain and France, that is a historic achievement. And in the battle for bronze was the real not so much – less dispossessions, what more triples, some extra experience – or the world CHAMPIONSHIP medal was a fact. The Belgian Cats were surprised the basketbalwereld with their cheerful appearance, their unbridled enthusiasm and their fresh game. At club level, the 37-year-old Ann Wauters just about all the trophies won, but the five-time European Player of the Year considers the double adventure EK/WK to be the most beautiful of her career.

Great leap forward

Before this world cup were the Belgian Cats are 28th in the Fiba ranking, well below their value. In the new classification they will be a great leap forward. In recent years Belgium has a half-dozen of the traditional great powers do stumble: France, Spain, China, Russia, Italy, Turkey and Greece. The double win euro cup makes it clear that the international summit comes within range. ‘We have shown to the world and are hungry for more, ” said Emma Meesseman. Next year at the european CHAMPIONSHIPS hear the Cats already in the medaillekandidaten. And the story stretches even further. Ann Wauters (37), Marjorie Carpréaux (31) and Kim Mestdagh (28) are the experienced guides. The other players are between 21 and 25 years, some of the Cats, one of the youngest teams at the world cup. That youthful legs suggest that the Belgian vrouwenbasketbal still a large groeimarge possession, especially because there is still a lot of young talent about to arrive. Furthermore, it would also be the 33-year-old American Celeste-Trahan Davis after her naturalization next year in the selection.

The road to the Tokyo 2020

The way to Japan is through to the european CHAMPIONSHIP 2019 in Serbia and Latvia. Who is there with the first six ends, qualifies for a preolympisch tournament, that the final qualification determines. Ann Wauters would probably be her last bit of cartilage are willing to sacrifice to make her big dream come true. But how long can the fragile knees of Wauters the profregime yet? Few in the history of Belgium have a larger impact on their sport than Wauters on the vrouwenbasketbal, but in Tokyo in 2020, she will be 39 years old and have more than 20 years of top-level sport on the clock.

A group of friends

The Belgian Cats surprised the world with their cheerful appearance, their unbridled enthusiasm and their fresh game

In addition to the experience of Ann Wauters is the greatest strength of this generation is the close-knit group that they form. ‘A gang of friends’, call coach Philip Mestdagh his team. “Some have known each other for a very long time and also speak outside of the basketball. They are sweet, but once on the parquet are the real warriors, then comes the winning mentality above.” In addition, there is the coach himself. He has not only Wauters will return to the team, he shows, moreover, peace and serenity, considers strict but fair and is tactically strong.

For a long time to be able to play on the international level, there are still some working points. As in many vrouwensporten is the level of the Dutch league is too low. Belgium is economical and sporty to small for twelve first graders. The competition is in medialuwte and sponsorschaarste. Who internationally want to play, must already at a young age, emigrating to foreign leagues, where the resistance training and in matches as much as higher, a route that most Cats choose.

The budget for the team should be the height. “We can invest more in the staff and the players receive a higher compensation offer”, says general manager Koen Umans. Earners they will never be, that Cats. For their performance at the world cup, they received 4,000 euro.


Spain – Belgium 67-60

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