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Big game from Astou Ndour boosts Spain in win over South Korea

The women’s 5x5 basketball competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games tipped off with a close contest between Spain and South Korea. A double-double from the Chicago Sky’s Astou Ndour helped the Spanish earn the victory.

Republic of Korea v Spain Women’s Basketball - Olympics: Day 3
Astou Ndour converts defense into offense during Spain’s Olympic-opening win over South Korea.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Chicago Sky’s Astou Ndour posted a double-double of 28 points and 10 rebounds, as well as four blocks and two steals, to help Spain secure a 73-69 win over South Korea in the opening Group A game at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday night.

Ndour’s performance for the 2016 silver medalists was reminder why she received a rich three-year offer sheet from the Atlanta Dream during the 2020 offseason, which eventually led to the Chicago Sky signing and trading her to the Dallas Wings. Things did not work out for Ndour in Dallas, resulting in her return to Chicago this offseason.

However, things worked out quite well for Ndour and the Spanish National Team in their first contest of the Olympics. With Spain clinging to a one-point lead entering the fourth quarter, Ndour turned in a tone-setting play early in the period. After snagging a steal, she streaked down the floor and slammed the ball home, an effort that would spur the Spanish, the No. 3 ranked team in the world, to the four-point victory.

South Korea, making its first Olympic appearance since 2008, deserves credit for giving the Spanish a tougher game than expected. The Las Vegas Aces’ Ji Su Park tallied a double-double of her own, scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Park also had four assists, three blocks and a steal. Kang Leeseul, who went undrafted in the 2016 WNBA Draft and plays for Bucheon KEB Hana Bank in the WKBL, led South Korea with 26 points.

In addition to Ndour’s excellence, Laura Gil provided the Spanish with a strong performance of 16 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Gil plays in the Spanish League, most recently for Valencia Basket. Overall, Spain’s aggressiveness on the glass, highlighted by 24 offensive rebounds, helped them prevail over a persistent South Korean squad.

Spain has several other players who might be familiar to WNBA and women’s college hoops fans. Maite Cazorla, the Oregon Duck who was selected by the Atlanta Dream in the second round of the 2019 WNBA Draft and has played one season in the WNBA, was scoreless in just over 20 minutes of playing time, although she contributed a pair of assists and rebounds. The Dream’s 2021 second-round draft pick, Raquel Carrera, chipped in two points in under 10 minutes of court time. Maria Conde, a former Florida State Seminole who has never played in the WNBA, saw brief action for the Spanish.

Up next

On Thursday at 4:20 a.m. ET, Spain meets Serbia, a matchup with some significant intrigue. During June’s EuroBasket competition, Serbia, ranked No. 17 in the FIBA world rankings, upset Spain in the quarterfinals before going on to to win the tournament. South Korea takes the court again on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET, facing Canada.