Belgian Cats celebrate record victory in European Championship qualifying match
Belgium’s women’s basketball team secured the biggest victory in their history on Sunday, when they beat Azerbaijan 136-28 in a qualifying match for the 2025 European Championship. The reigning European champions had started the Group C campaign on Wednesday with a surprising home defeat against Poland.
The Belgian Cats raced to a 25-6 lead in the first quarter in Baku and continued to add to their tally. Emma Meesseman was top shooter with 31 points. The 108-point difference is the Cats’ biggest ever win, surpassing their previous record from 1995, when they beat Scotland 122-28 in a qualifier for the 1997 European Championships.
“The goal was threefold,” said coach Rachid Méziane. “To win, of course, and by a big margin, because after the loss against the Poles the [points] average could become important, and finally to let everyone play. That was the case and everyone had an impact on the game.”
The next qualifying match is a year from now, with a home game against Lithuania and a trip to Poland in November 2024. In February 2025, they will face Azerbaijan at home and Lithuania away.
Of the eight qualifying pools, the group winners and the four best runners-up qualify for the 2025 European Championship, which takes place in Greece, Germany, the Czech Republic and Italy. In June this year, the Cats won their first European title, beating Spain in the final in Ljubljana.
Emma Meesseman pictured the Belgian Cats' defeat to Poland © BELGA PHOTO VIRGINIE LEFOUR