TORONTO (July 7, 2022) — In a duel of winless teams in the round-robin women’s pool of the inaugural GLOBL JAM competition, Belgium stood strong against a fierce comeback bid to hold their lead from wire to wire and beat the United States, 63-50. The win moves Belgium into third in the standings.
Belgium’s hot start saw them leading 10-2 after five minutes of play, scoring continually in transition off the United States’ rebounds and turnovers. Even when the American squad found a stable offence, Belgium responded in the same manner, establishing a 20-10 lead after the first quarter.
They did it in a balanced way, too. While Becky Massey and Maxuella Lisowa-Mbaka delivered strong early performances, tipping in four points each, seven different Belgium players got on the scoreboard in their team-wide complete first-quarter effort. That was reflected on the defensive side as well, as Ine Joris controlled the boards to ensure no second chances from United States.
There were positive flashes for the Americans, despite the scoreboard rarely reflecting it. Janika Griffith-Wallace found her shooting rhythm comfortably for the first time all competition, leading the United States with six points in the second quarter — a surge that helped rejuvenate their scoring charge. But Nastja Claessens and Billie Massey found theirs for Belgium as well, ensuring the 10-point lead would remain at the half.
The American squad used a dramatic third quarter to narrow that first-half lead. Outscoring Belgium in their best all-around performance of the game, United States captain Taya Robinson’s five points and Keowa Walters’ four allowed them to cut the deficit to single digits in the third as they trailed by only eight points — thanks to a buzzer-beater from Robinson.
“You just have to keep calm and don’t panic or anything, just read the game, we have the time to take a break and talk it over again which is positive as well, just see the strong points and keep on going,” said Becky Massey.
Capitalizing off turnovers and playing more physical defensively — a change in tactic that forced Belgium to work harder in the paint instead of getting easily to the rim — worked in the United States’ favour. Despite trailing by eight points, they had a foundation to head into the fourth quarter on a high note.
While the United States upped their intensity, Belgium responded almost instantly. Perhaps there was no better illustration of it than how they kept their composure on the court, committing turnovers less frequently while still playing tough defence against a United States team with momentum on their side.
The Massey sisters continued to dominate for Belgium in the third quarter, scoring seven of the team’s twelve points in the frame as they adjusted to the faster pace and tough defence the United States threw their way.
“There’s nothing stronger than two sisters on the team, they grew up together, they’ve played basketball together since they were five or six years old, they can play on the national team together, I think that those connections are almost the main point of this team,” said Belgium head coach Arvid Diels.
In the final quarter, with the United States hot on their heels, Belgium returned to their dominant, physical style of play they had come out with in the first quarter and continued to win by using a full team effort. Five players scored seven or more points during the decisive stretch.n
Most important to their game plan, they continued to pressure United States into taking long-range shots that would not fall as easily — instead of allowing drives to the rim — and the United States finished the game shooting just 29 per cent as a team.
The U.S. bench upped their production in the final minutes of play, but Belgium continued to dominate on the boards and respond to every basket with one of their own, sealing their first win with a convincing double-digit lead.
Captain Lisowa-Mbaka led her team to victory with a 16-point effort — including six points in the final quarter. Becky Massey finishing with 12 points, four rebounds and five assists in the win while Billie Massey finished with eight points and eight rebounds.
Four points in the final minutes of play pushed Chloe Bloom to nine points for the U.S., as Griffith-Wallace was held scoreless in the final quarter and also finished with nine points.
“We are waiting to see who will be our next opponent, I think we had some good moments against Canada and against France, so our goal is to be ready and to play our best basketball in the semi-finals,” said Diels.