22 September, 2022
01 October
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Allemand: "2018 FIBA World Cup was the beginning of something special"

SYDNEY (Australia) - Whisper it quietly, but Julie Allemand and Belgium might just be ready to move on from their gut-wrenching and now infamous tearjerker at the Tokyo Olympics.

Helped hugely that she is now back playing in the FIBA competition that ignited her career, erasing the Tokyo nightmare is almost complete.

"I think it still hurts and that is why we don't talk about it as a team." confessed Allemand, reflecting on the epic 86-85 Quarter-Finals loss to Japan that has been described as one of the best women's games of all-time.

"It's a little bit crazy because I remember eating a few days ago with my teammates and we were talking about Japan and someone mentioned a game.

"I asked them 'hang on - do you mean that game? Or just the friendly game we played?' They obviously said the friendly. We just don't, or maybe we can't talk about what happened in Tokyo."

She continued: "Yes, some of us still carry it with us and I think that is natural, but now we have to all think about the future. We now have a bit of a different team and a different coach, so this helps us to turn the page at this Women's Basketball World Cup.

"Had it been that everything was the same here in Sydney, it would have been tough to leave that huge disappointment in the past."

Allemand is arguably one of the ballers who have the strongest connection to the competition, having posted a spectacular breakout performance at the last edition in Tenerife. The guard tied the game-high assists record as she helped the debuting Cats to roll all the way to the Semi-Finals. She was sensational in the Quarter-Finals clash with France, passing the rock 13 times.

"I feel like it was 10 years ago now as so much ha happened in the world in general and also in my career," said Allemand.

"It was amazing and the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup was the beginning of something special for me. I felt like I was ready to take the next step and the coach said he was giving me a key and I could unlock what I needed to.

"We all played with so much freedom and nobody expected little Belgium to be like this and to make the Semi-Finals. When I think about Tenerife, so much of me wants to be able to revisit that time."

This time around, the big question is whether Belgium are ready. Since the arrival of new head coach Valery Demory and some young players, the team is perhaps still discovering its new identity. Plus, opponents are respecting Belgium more and preparing intensively to shut them down.

So far things have looked positive. Despite an opening day 15-point  loss to USA, they played relatively well and then eased out Korea 84-61 on day 2 with Allemand winning praise for her contribution. 

"The difference four years later is that we are not a surprise package any more and everyone respect Belgium basketball, so they actively look how to slow us down," mused Allemand.

"We are not the same Belgium as before. I think that we probably still need some time to find this new identity. I still don't know what we are going to do in this tournament as it unfolds and we will have to pay better attention to details to be ready.

"We are very young, but I think that is good because we are moving on from Tokyo and the previous chapter. I hope this one is just as exciting," smiled the guard.