The United States defeated Belgium 93-77 in the 2018 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup semifinals. Here are some takeaways from Saturday’s game.
The USA passed a critical test before Sunday’s championship game
The United States didn’t play one of FIBA’s highest-performing teams until today when they played Belgium, the winner of the bronze medal of FIBA EuroBasket Women 2017. Belgium historically hasn’t ranked high on FIBA’s radar, which made them an easy team to overlook in the World Cup. But the Americans’ awareness of Emma Meesseman’s game and their tendency to alter the world order certainly caught their eye.
Diana Taurasi kept her form when Team USA needed her the most
On the surface, Belgium posed a small threat at best to the Americans’ hopes. Someone from the American team had to ensure that it went that way. Taurasi was the veteran guard who did just that, scoring 26 points and making 5-of-10 three-pointers in Saturday’s semifinal.
putting a hand in diana taurasi's face is meaningless pic.twitter.com/okma8q3QQD— Matt Ellentuck (@mellentuck) September 29, 2018
Belgium still kept things close in the first half
Overall, the Belgians were not fazed or starstruck by the Americans’ talent advantage, and the numerous lead changes in the first half proved this. In fact, Belgium led 25-19 after the first quarter. Though the Americans came back in the second half, the halftime score was only 40-39 in favor of the United States.
In summary, Belgium still has a very good team and figures to be relevant for years to come. Most of the roster is under 30 years old, including Emma Meesseman, who is just 25. The Belgian national team will be in very good hands as long as she remains on the roster.
Emma Meesseman had the game of her life
Meesseman missed the 2018 WNBA season to prepare with the Belgian national team, and having a potential chance to medal was a major reason why.
She scored 23 points to lead all Belgian players and shot 9-of-15 from the field overall in the game. Meesseman also added 6 rebounds and 2 assists.
Even in a game when the Americans knew who the offense would go around, Meesseman continued to persevere and score consistently for the Belgians.
Julie Allemand also had the game of her life
Allemand dished 12 assists in the semifinal while also adding 8 points of her own. Allemand is also a 2016 WNBA third-round draft pick for the Indiana Fever, where she more than made her case to remain on a WNBA roster beyond training camp. She actually dished a World Cup-record 13 assists in Belgium’s quarterfinals win against France, with some highlights from that effort below:
Next Games for the USA and Belgium
The United States will play in the gold medal game Sunday at 3 p.m. ET against Australia, the winner of Saturday’s second semifinal game. Belgium will play the loser of that game, Spain, on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET.