Basketball team drops hard-fought first game to Spain

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Basketball team drops hard-fought first game to Spain

Spain's Laura Gil, left, grabs a rebound in front of Korea's Kim Dan-bi during a women's basketball preliminary round game at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Monday, in Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan. [AP/YONHAP]

Spain's Laura Gil, left, grabs a rebound in front of Korea's Kim Dan-bi during a women's basketball preliminary round game at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Monday, in Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan. [AP/YONHAP]

 
The Korean basketball team lost their opening game to Spain 73-69, losing after a hard fought first game at the Tokyo Games on Monday.
 
Spain is the world No. 3 team, and was expecting an easy game against the Korean side, ranked No. 19 on the FIBA rankings. Despite the loss, the close score comes as a positive sign that Korea was able to mostly hold its own against a strong team.
 
The game started with Park Ji-su losing the jump ball, and it seemed the Spanish side was playing up to their big name, taking the score to 8-0 in less than four minutes.
 
Park Hye-jin, right, drives to the basket over Spain's Astou Ndour during women's basketball preliminary round game at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Monday, in Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan. [AP/YONHAP]

Park Hye-jin, right, drives to the basket over Spain's Astou Ndour during women's basketball preliminary round game at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Monday, in Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan. [AP/YONHAP]

 
Park Hye-jin scored first for Korea, a two-pointer assisted by Park Ji-su. Korea started to catch up with the Spanish side, with Kim Dan-bi pulling off a three-pointer to take the score to 14-13 to Spain, finishing the first quarter at 16-15.
 
In the second quarter, Korea started outscoring the Spanish side and pulled ahead 18-16 with a clean three-pointer from Park Ji-su.
 
 
With a buzzer beater from Park Ji-su, Korea ended the second quarter up 35-33, two points ahead of the Spanish side.
 
Despite looking flustered, Laia Palau made a three-pointer in the start of the third quarter, pulling ahead once again. By the end of the quarter, Korea trailed by one point with Spain ahead 54-53.
 

After a short break, Spain came on the court looking determined. Cristina Ouvina opened the scoring with a big three-pointer and the tide was back on the Spanish side.
 
Yoon Ye-bin, left, drives around Spain's Cristina Ouvina during women's basketball preliminary round game at the 2020 Summer Olympics, on Monday in Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan. [AP/YONHAP]

Yoon Ye-bin, left, drives around Spain's Cristina Ouvina during women's basketball preliminary round game at the 2020 Summer Olympics, on Monday in Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan. [AP/YONHAP]

 
Team Korea requested a time out as an attempt to bring back some momentum, but despite Yoon Ye-bin pulling off a three-pointer, Spain pulled ahead 71-58.  
 
Korea struggled to close that gap in the dying minutes of the last quarter with consecutive points starting from Park Hye-jin’s two-pointer. Kang came up with two more two-pointers then Park Ji-hyun shot a two-pointer in the dying seconds, taking the match to its final score 73-69.
 
The Korean team celebrates during women's basketball preliminary round game against Spain at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Monday in Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan. [AP/YONHAP]

The Korean team celebrates during women's basketball preliminary round game against Spain at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Monday in Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan. [AP/YONHAP]

 
Korea is playing in Group A with Spain, Serbia and Canada. The top two countries from each of the four groups in the preliminaries will go on to the quarterfinals.
 
Korea will next face Canada at 10 a.m. on Thursday.

BY YUN SO-HYANG [yun.sohyang@joongang.co.kr]
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