November 6, 2020
Emma Meesseman tests positive for COVID-19
The Washington Mystics and Belgium forward will miss the upcoming European Championships qualifying tournament
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Washington Mystics forward Emma Meesseman has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not play for the Belgian national team in the second qualifying tournament for the 2021 European Championships next week. The news was first reported by Belgium’s Het Laatste Nieuws (HLN) on Friday, and Meesseman confirmed it in an Instagram post shortly thereafter.
“I tested positive for Covid19 so this is another game for me now, but I am doing ok!” Meesseman wrote. “I am quarantined but I feel good!
“I will be rooting for the Belgian Cats and have full confidence they will bring back the wins, but above all I hope they will stay safe.”
HLN reported that Meesseman was infected by a teammate at UMMC Ekaterinburg, a Russian club team that also features WNBA players Allie Quigley, Courtney Vandersloot, Jonquel Jones, and Maria Vadeeva. Ekaterinburg is 4-0 so far this season, and Meesseman had 10 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals in its most recent win on November 3.
On November 4, Meesseman flew from Russia to Belgium to join the Belgian Cats, but she tested positive the following day, forcing her into quarantine. Belgian Cats assistant coach Pierre Cornia also tested positive and is quarantining.
Head coach Philip Mestdagh told HLN that every player needs two negative tests in order to enter the tournament bubble in Olivedas, Portugal. With Meesseman’s positive test coming on Thursday, there is not enough time for her to test negative twice before the team departs on November 8. Twenty-year-old center Becky Massey will replace Meesseman on the roster, which also includes Indiana Fever point guard Julie Allemand and former WNBA players Ann Wauters and Kim Mestdagh.
Belgium enters the second qualifying tournament with a 2-0 record and as the #1 team in FIBA’s EuroBasket power rankings. The Cats will play Portugal (#23 in the power rankings) on November 12 and Ukraine (#11) on November 14.
“It is now up to the others to show that the Cats are more than just Emma, even if there is only one Emma Meesseman,” Philip Mestdagh told HLN (translated from Dutch).
Allemand, Sweden’s Amanda Zahui B. and Germany’s Satou Sabally were among the WNBA and EuroBasket players wishing Meesseman a speedy recovery on Instagram, and the Washington Mystics also extended well wishes. The Mystics had yet to release an official statement at press time.
Written by Jenn Hatfield
Jenn Hatfield has been a contributor to The Next since December 2018 and is currently the site's managing editor, Washington Mystics beat reporter and Ivy League beat reporter. (She also writes the "Family Rivalries" series for The Next.) Her work has also appeared at FiveThirtyEight, Her Hoop Stats and FanSided.