|Emma Meesseman in action with Belgium in the U16 European Championship of 2009|
By Christian Detroz
Emma Meesseman knows she oozes with potential.
The 17-year-old center has every chance to become a solid professional, and a key member of Belgium's national team.
Yet she is also cognizant of her shortcomings.
Meesseman has been able to test herself against good competition in the EuroCup Women as a member of Lotto Young Cats.
She is averaging 17.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.
The team advanced to the Sixteenth-Finals after winning two of its six games in the Regular Season - both against Olivais Coimbra.
The games have been a reality check for Meesseman.
"I do feel that I'm not as strong as my opponents and I lack experience," Meesseman said.
"But it's a perfect way to learn and see what my weaknesses are and what I have to do to reach a higher level.
"Those European games are very helpful.
"I'm never happy with my games, and I know that I can do better. But as a team, we do a fantastic job. Who really thought that we could have gone to the next round?"
Lotto Young Cats are made up of the best young talent in Belgium.
Club sides gave their promising youngsters to the team with the aim of getting them experience as quickly as possible.
"This project is perfect for young players," Meesseman said.
"I think that we were able to convince everyone that the project was a good idea as you can see with our results.
"Not only in terms of wins or losses, but mostly with our visible progress and development as players.
"I know also that there is a lot of focus on me. I don't pay attention to that, I'm trying to stay focused on my game.
"Sure it's more and more difficult because the other teams start to focus more on me, but it's the game.
"I have to deal with it, to work hard, day in and day out. And to progress."
Next Up Torun
Energa Torun will be the opponents for the Lotto Young Cats in the Sixteenth Finals.
Philip Mestdagh, the coach of the Young Cats, accomplished the mission of reaching the knockout stages.
Everyone will do their best to make sure the club keeps competing in the EuroCup.
"Who would have thought that we would go on to play in the next round ?" Meesseman said.
"But here we are. It's such a nice experience.
"We have a super team with a nice spirit.
"That's the most important key. That's why we were able to win comfortably in Olivais Coimbra for our first game.
"We surely didn't know what our level was before this first match and we were very happy to win in Portugal.
"It was the first step. Our game against Ruzomberok was also very decent. But the difference was clear in terms of height and physical potential."
Those games highlighted the areas where Lotto Young Cats need to improve.
Ruzomberok beat them in Belgium, 69-62, thrashed then in Slovakia, 79-43.
ESB Lille Metropole beat the Young Cats 82-57 in France and 65-52 in Houthalen.
"Unfortunately, our games at Villeneuve or Ruzomberok were not so good," Meesseman said.
"We were lacking energy and focus. We were not aggressive enough.
"We have learned lessons from all our games, and after each game we have become a better team.
"We take all the positives of this experience - individually, and as a team, too."
One must not forget that the Young Cats are school age teens.
"We also received a lot of help to combine our school duties with the European competition," Meesseman said.
"It wasn't so easy."