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26 July, 2021
08 August
27/07/2021
Review
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History for the Belgian Cats, Wilson shines on debut, joy for Japan and China

TOKYO (Japan) - Belgium wrote another historic chapter in their recent rise to prominence on the global stage after a spectacular final quarter handed them a debut Olympic win against Australia.

The Cats went off with a 29-13 last period to pave the way for a memorable  85-70 Group C victory as Emma Meesseman and Julie Allemand both showed up in top form for their first Olympic outing.

“IT'S AN AMAZING WIN FOR US AGAINST A BIG NATION LIKE AUSTRALIA. IT MEANS A LOT FOR A SMALL COUNTRY LIKE BELGIUM." - Coach Mestdagh


The former had a sparkling 32 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals, while Allemand contributed 16 points and 11 assists, although it was a strong team effort, with a nice 17-point cameo from Antonia Delaere helping enormously. 

"Congratulations to all my players for the way they prepared and played," said Belgium head coach, Philip Mestdagh.

"It is an amazing win for us against a big nation like Australia and it means a lot for a small country like Belgium. But it is only one game and while we can enjoy this, we have to recognize that we need to be ready for Puerto Rico."

Their next opponents were not able to also post a winning debut, with Puerto Rico falling in the other group game 97-56 against China. Yueru Li proved unstoppable as the frontcourt star excelled with 21 points and 12 rebounds, shooting 82% from the field. 

Meanwhile in Group B, Sue Bird deservedly took the plaudits for an Olympic career-high 13 assists for Team USA, as well as surpassing the 100 assist landmark in an 81-72 win against Nigeria.

However, there was no overlooking a stellar first game at the event from forward A'ja Wilson, who posted a superb Olympic debut double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Not that the win was particularly pleasing for head coach Dawn Staley, who criticized her team for their 25 turnovers.

 

Earlier in the day, Japan made up for the absence of their injured marquee star Ramu Tokashiki with a vibrant team display that culminated in an exciting 74-70 victory against France. It was Moeko Nagaoka who hit the go-ahead triple inside the last minute that proved to be the deal breaker and now puts Japan firmly on the front foot. 

While Japan had 11 different scorers, the relentless work from Maki Takada stood out. The home squad's head coach Tom Hovasse declared that she was the game  MVP. Japan also relied on 11 assists from Rui Machida who dropped 11 three-pointers, while Sandrine Gruda posted 18 points and 9 rebounds in defeat.

FIBA