26 July, 2021
08 August
23 Ana Dabovic (SRB)
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Serbia and Spain get it done as they deal with opening day pressure in Tokyo

TOKYO (Japan) - European duo Serbia and Spain are both breathing a sigh of relief after they each collected narrow Group A victories to get their respective campaigns off to a positive start as the Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament swung into action.

Serbia allowed a double-digit lead to slip against Canada and could have regretted turning the ball over far too much but they managed to dig out a precious 72-68 triumph.

The difference-maker was Ana Dabovic who produced some clutch plays in the last quarter, like  making a couple of big triples on either side of an outrageous over-the-head assist to Aleksandra Crvendakic who converted from range.


Dabovic finished with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Sonja Vasic was also typically influential with a team-high 16 points.

However, Serbia head coach Marina Maljkovic was far from happy with her team's carelessness with the ball.

She fumed: "At the end we did it, but I can barely talk about how many turnovers we had becauese when I look at the stats, I go crazy.

"We knew them from Rio where we lost and we knew we had to be careful. So yes, we got the win and of course the first game is always difficult anywhere and especially at the Olympics. But we need to analyse about how we are responsible."

Added Maljkovic: "I am telling you that 28 turnovers is seriously crazy. A serious team does not turn the ball over like this. We are the European champions and we can't accept this in these next games."

Spain got off to a winning start against Korea as they picked up a hard-fought 73-69 success that was fuelled by frontcourt pairing Astou Ndour and Laura Gil. The former dropped 28 points and hauled down 10 rebounds as Gil shot the ball brilliantly for 16 points to go along with 14 rebounds.

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The Spanish victory came from the team's 24 offensive rebounds and, most importantly, a 12-2 run at the start of the last quarter which snapped the game open. It gave Spain a valuable cushion for the closing moments when Korea launched a late rescue mission, led by 26 points from Leeseul Kang as Ji Su Park posted 17 points and 10 rebounds in defeat.

Spanish coach Lucas Mondelo was not overjoyed by the performance, but insisted it was all about getting the right result in the books.

"The most important thing is to get the win when you play the first game of a big tournament and it has been such a long time since we were able to play a match," Mondelo said. "This made it very difficult as Korea have a very different rhythm from what teams play in Europe. We had a lot of pressure on us.

"We know we could have won by more points but we lost our focus. But by winning, we will gain confidence and we can think positively about the next game against Serbia."