by Paul Nilsen
"The most beautiful moment of the game" is how tournament MVP contender Julie Vanloo described the thrill of dishing an assist to her team-mate in the dying moments as Belgium topped Group E with a 63-50 win over Serbia.
Anybody fearing another effortlessly masterful display of 24 points might go to the head of Vanloo can forget it.
|Julie Vanloo and Belgium head into the Quarter-Finals from the top spot of Group E|
She hugged team mate Katrien Matthysen after feeding her the last bucket of the contest and then showed her class off the court by subsequently explaining it was the highlight of her day.
"Katrien doesn't get to play very much but I was so happy for her that she scored two baskets."
"She is so positive and it is hard for the girls who spend time on the bench but I was really happy to finish with her scoring like that."
"It was the most beautiful moment of the game because it is not about me it is about all of us as working as a team."
"We had some difficult moments in the early part of the game but we are very good reacting and we played very good defence."
"Our shooting was poor in the first half but we picked it up in the second which made a big difference."
Buoyed by their convincing win over Italy, Belgium scored the first five points of the game via a ell executed pick and roll for the classy Meesseman and then who else but Julie Vanloo nonchalantly burying a triple.
Serbia were scoreless for the first four minutes until point guard Jelena Stulic made a shot and after this, Serbia gradually grew in confidence and matched Belgium with three further scores. However the players weren't able to make up for their earlier poor start and trailed 15-8 heading into the second quarter as Meesseman scored the final bucket of the first.
Serbia made a good start to the second quarter and narrowed to within 17-15 and with four minutes left until the midway point of the game were still two points behind at 21-19. Or at least they were until Sien Devliegher sunk a trey to spark a 7-2 run to re-assert Belgium control
With Natasa Kovecevic rimming out with a three-point attempt on the buzzer, Belgium carried their seven point margin into the second half at 29-22.
There was little change in the penultimate quarter. Serbia struggled to find any penetration whatsoever and couldn't make a shot. Belgium weren't much better but they had the class player on the floor.
With four minutes remaining until the end of the period, Vanloo sunk a triple from the corner with a hand in her face and then moments later made a tough cut to the hoop and again finished under pressure to give her team a 42-27 advantage and a mountain to climb for Serbia.
That particular challenge became even greater once more as Belgium scored the last 6 points of the period.
Having held their opponent to just five points in ten minutes, the result never looked to be in any doubt and so it proved as Belgium strolled to yet another success and rapidly looking like good bets or a podium finish.
While Vanloo grabbed the limelight, another MVP contender in Emma Meesseman cemented her place as one of the leading players in the tournament with a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds while Lynn Delvaux weighed in with 13.