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‘This is a once in a lifetime experience’: Former FSU women’s basketball players relishing opportunity to play for Spain

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 12:50 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 26, 2021 at 12:54 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Monday marked day two of competition for women’s basketball at the Tokyo Olympics and two former Florida State University players are representing Spain.

Maria Conde and Leonor Rodriguez say despite the year-long delay and no fans in the crowd, they are feeling blessed to compete on the world’s biggest stage and represent their country. This is Conde’s first Olympics and Rodriguez’s second.

In 2016, Rodriquez helped Spain to its first-ever medal in women’s basketball, winning silver in Brazil. The shooting guard played for FSU from 2009 to 2013. As a senior, she earned All-ACC First Team honors as she averaged 14.9 points per game.

Rodriguez says playing at FSU and professionally in Spain helped her develop into a two-time Olympian.

In Tokyo now, she is telling teammates like Conde to be present for every moment of the experience.

“Even if we have to walk around with masks on, or wash out hands 100 times, I take it like a blessing because a year ago we didn’t know the Olympics would be possible,” Rodriquez says. “So, just thankful and trying to enjoy the moment.”

Conde is a small forward and played at FSU from 2015 to 2017. After her sophomore season at FSU, she began playing professionally in the Czech Republic. She averaged 15.9 points for her squad last season.

Conde says playing without a crowd lately has been an adjustment, but their team is always loud and brings great energy. Since this is her first Olympics, she’s learning from teammates who have played at this level before, like Rodriguez.

“This is a once in a lifetime experience,” Conde says. “Be present in the moment. It’s easy to go through the motions, miss things that you might not experience ever again. They are trying to make sure we are present here, so we enjoy everything we are going through.”

As far as the team’s plan on the court -- they are taking it game-by-game, focusing on their style, playing with confidence and trusting in each other.

There are 12 countries in the tournament. In Spain’s first game of the preliminary round on Sunday, they defeated South Korea, 73-69. Spain’s next game is against Serbia, and that’s scheduled for 4:20 a.m. Thursday.

After that, Spain will play Canada at 9 p.m. Saturday.

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