|The Netherlands managed to prevent another double-double performance by Emma Meesseman, but Belgium came up with a great team effort to pull away|
Belgium confirmed their candidacy for a podium finish at the Global Vision U18 European Championship Women with another impressive performance, as this time they breezed past their neighbours the Netherlands, 71-54.
Belgium are undefeated, and they now top Group F with eight points. They will play on Wednesday with France, in a game that will probably decide the winner of this group.
The French team will first face Serbia, later today.
It was not an easy ride right from the start, as Maxime Essenstam had 10 points and grabbed four rebounds only in the first quarter to help the Netherlands stay close to Belgium after the early exchanges.
But then she went quiet for the rest of the encounter, the same as the entire Netherland team.
"I think in the first half we didn't find a solution for their zone defense. But then everything went better," said Benny Mertens, head coach of Belgium.
On defense the Dutch focused on their opponents' best player, Emma Meesseman, who had only five points and four rebounds in the first half.
But Meesseman got plenty of help from her team-mates, and Belgium made use of some team-oriented offensive plays to enter the second half with a ten-point lead, 35-25.
After the break, a strong combined defense from the Belgians forced the Dutch to take some tough shot-attempts, many of them at the buzzer, without a big rate of success.
The winners crowded the painted area and their defensive rebounds led many times to unstoppable fast-breaks.
Julie Vanloo scored half of her points in the third quarter and distributed some very useful assists to her team-mates, to power Belgium to a 25-7 partial score throughout the ten minutes.
Vanloo finished with 14 points and four assists, Lynn Delvaux added 13 points and four rebounds, while Meeseeman contributed with nine points and six rebounds.
Essenstam finished with a double-double, 14 points and 10 rebounds, and was the only double-digit scorer from the losing side.
"This team has confidence, and everything goes well so far. We are not thinking right now about some medal, we just want to take everything step by step," added coach Mertens.