No stunt on the first day of the World Cup in Sydney, Australia and of the Belgian Cats versus Olympic and world champion America. Even without the trio of WNBA champions (Kelsey Plum, Chelsea Gray and A’Ja Wilson) from Las Vegas Aces (they arrive today), Team USA was a size too big for the Cats. Friday (5am Belgian time) the Cats have to react with a win against Korea. In group A, Puerto Rico also opened with a surprising 58-82 win against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
America opened the World Cup with only nine players. Nine stars from the WNBA and including Breanna Stewart, Kahleah Copper, Alyssa Thomas, Jewell Loyd and Sabrina Ionescu in the selection.
The Belgian Cats nervously started their second World Cup in the Sydney Superdôme. Via Breanna Stewart, Ariel Atkins and Jewell Lloyd, USA immediately steamed to a 12-0 lead after Belgian losses. Julie Vanloo with three-pointers and with support from Antonia Delaere narrowed the gap: 14-7. An alert Julie Allemand dropped bombs and at 14-13 the Cats were suddenly back in the game. America continued with a good shot performance against the Belgian zone defense and ran away again via a sublime Breanna Stewart: 24-15 and 32-22 after the first quarter. Emma Meesseman did not enjoy the match, but Maxuella Lisowa and Hind Ben Abdelkader made a fresh substitute. After Emma Meesseman’s first points, a second Belgian remonte was a fact: 38-33. Billie Massey dropped a bomb, but the Belgians suffered too many ball losses and the Americans took advantage of a 48-39 lead halfway through.
The Cats did win the second slide 16-17. The start of the second half was missed again due to ball losses. Breanna Stewart scored, Alyssa Thomas provided assists and the Americans walked away to 60-41. Billie Massey, Hind Ben Abdelkader and Julie Vanloo scored but after the third quarter USA had a 72-56 bonus after 64-45.Knee injury Kyara Linskens The Americans were physically stronger, also faster and had a bite at 76-56. At an 83-63 score, Kyara Linskens (knee injury) did leave the game after a hard rebound duel. Hopefully the damage for the Belgian center is not too bad and she can compete against Korea. In the final phase, national coach Valéry Demory allowed players such as Emma Meesseman, Julie Allemand, Hind Ben Abdelkader and Antonia Delaere some extra rest towards the important games on Friday (Korea) and Saturday (Puerto Rico). Julie Vanloo took the Belgian “Next Gen” in tow. Maxuella Lisowa showed a lot of effort, Becky Massey scored a three-pointer, but America did not let the deserved win escape after a late Belgian comeback. A two out of two is now a must if the Belgian Cats are to stay on track for a place in the quarterfinals. Of the two groups of six, the top four qualified for a place in the last eight.
America- Belgium 87-72Quartz: 32-22, 16-17, 24-17, 15-16Belgium: Allemand 10-0, Vanloo 6-7, Delaere 6-2, Meesseman 2-2, Linskens 5-4, Ramette 0-0, Resimont 0-3, Ben Abdelkader 3-3, Becky Massey 0-5, Lisowa 4- 5 , Billie Massey 3-2, George 0-0