The Belgian Cats did win against Portugal yesterday, the poor final phase leaves a bit of a sour aftertaste. “These are strange circumstances,” Kim Mestdagh nuances in our Facebook Live.
“Everyone came here with a different background: some played a lot, others barely. And then we miss 2 important players (Emma Meesseman and Kiara Linskens). There were many uncertainties.”
“Normally you also have 6 weeks of preparation, now it was 3 days. You have to include a lot of information in it. I was pleasantly surprised how smoothly it went. We especially have to remember the first 25 minutes, not the last 15.”
Yet Mestdag also admits that Meesseman’s absence is a bloodletting. “She is an added value in all areas: scoring, assists and in defense. We can give her the ball at any time, she will find the solution or do it on her own.”
Tomorrow Belgium will meet its toughest opponent with Ukraine. In the first match in the European Championship preliminary round, the Ukrainians were quickly put aside, but the Cats are wary, especially for star player Alina Jagoepova.
“Ukraine will be more difficult than Portugal anyway. They are always there at a European Championship”, says Jana Raman. “Jagoepova is not easy to stop. You can’t say,” She can only make 5 points. “She will always be good for 15 to 20 points, maybe more. It’s up to us to control the rest.”
“We can’t avoid Alina taking 10 to 20 shots, we can make sure that those shots are as difficult as possible and that she isn’t good for 10 assists or 10 rebounds.”
“We have to make sure that nobody else excels in Ukraine. If the points only come from Jagoepova, we can survive.”
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