Leading MVP candidate Ndour has one eye on African football
BELGRADE (Serbia) - After Astou Ndour put Russia to the sword in the Quarter-Finals of the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2019, she was already turning her attention to the next big issue.
And, it wasn't necessarily the big Semi-Final against Serbia on Saturday. That will come in due course, but first, it's all eyes on her beloved Senegal football team and a major game in the African Cup of Nations.
The very mention of her heroes gets the smile on the face of Ndour to widen even more than it already was, having hit Russia with 24 points and 12 rebounds in a 78-54 triumph.
"Yes, now Senegal are playing in the African Nations Cup and we are in the Eighth Finals and I am hoping so much that we can get the win we need to make it to the Quarter-Finals," enthused the Dakar-born forward.
"Ever since I was young I have watched football non-stop and followed the Senegal teams.
"I hope I will be able to watch some of the game and of course it is a rest day as well, so maybe that is great timing," smiled Ndour.
But could she have ever envisaged swapping her impressive career as a basketball star for playing football?
"I did play some football a bit when I was younger, but it was only ever for fun," she responded.
The best guess is that with her height, long arms and quick hands, there was only ever one potential position.
"Yes, always in goal," she laughed.
Desde el 1er día nos hemos tomado este #EurobasketWomen muy en serio. Estamos en semifinales, así que sigamos trabajando. España, ¡Os necesitamos!😈🇪🇸🏀🇪🇺 #SelFem #QueremosMás #SomosEquipo pic.twitter.com/VGIY7vZoPl— Astou Ndour (@NdouraStou) July 4, 2019
Even if she does have an eye on the football, the focus of this tournament in Belgrade and the task of getting the reigning champions back to the top of the podium is intense and unquestionable.
The degree of her impact on Spain's play is huge. It also has people talking about her as an MVP in waiting, with shades of Tenerife and the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2018 when she made the All-Star Five.
"We knew what we needed to do against Russia and we played the way that Spain needs to play," she agreed.
"We knew it would be a hard game but it was a reflection of the work we have been doing since the first day of preparation. It was the true face of Spain and our team.
"I am not looking at anything like MVP or All-Star Five. I am here focused to help the team and to do my best. That is all any player should be doing."
"I know they need me and that I need to be there every time in each moment to make a difference and I am also waiting to do more if it is needed, added Ndour.
Having had to settle for bronze last year at the Worlds and having taken bronze four years ago on her only other Final Round appearance, it is understandable that she has an added motivation to move higher up the podium steps. Missing out on the golden success of Prague two years ago was tough.
"That year I had surgery on my ankle and I couldn't go, which is why I am so thankful that I am here now and it feels great to be in a team that is playing well and can do big things," she concluded.
Now Ndour and her team-mates are two wins away from doing something that no nation has managed in almost 30 years - defending the FIBA Women's EuroBasket title.