by Paul Nilsen
An impressive tournament high score of 28 points by Julie Vanloo helped Belgium to an important 73-64 success against Finland as they recorded their first win of the tournament.
Vanloo was on fire all game and the Finland defence had no answer as she got to the hoop, made some nice jump shots and most impressively rained down five triples to give her team a boost after disappointment against Spain first time out.
This was however far from a one player performance with Emma Meesseman powering her way to 16 points and 9 rebounds to leave Coach Goethals striding purposefully off court, pleased to be off the mark.
"The game plan was to get back to our normal game and not to take gambles like we did against Spain."
"We played really very well in the first half but then in the second half and in the last quarter particularly, I gave a lot of time to my players on the bench."
"Finland never gave up for sure and they fought back but I was never worried. I knew that my team was back on track and maybe we can have any easier game tomorrow."
While the scores were tied 17-17 after the first period it was an interesting contrast in approaches. Finland focused on getting to the hoop and making some foul shots while for Belgium, guard Julie Vanloo was lighting it up from downtown as she sunk three triples.
Vanloo continued her good work into the second quarter and with forward Lynn Delvaux also stepping outside to put Finland to the sword, Belgium went on what proved to be a game breaking 18-1 run to leave Coach Jokela and his players stunned.
Finland just couldn't find the looks they needed to drag themselves back into the contest and indeed things got worse as they could only find three points in ten minutes, mainly due to far too many unforced turnovers and consequently headed into the locker rooms trailing 39-20.
With Belgian forward Meesseman joining the party with eight points in the third quarter, Finland could make no impression on the deficit and trailed 63-42 heading into the final ten minutes focusing on damage limitation.
As Belgium rotated their players, Finland fought back well and finished strongly, outscoring their opponent 22-10 to cut the final margin to single figures and a touch of respectability to the score line.