A trio of heartbreaks only made No.1 women's 3x3 player Ygueravide even stronger
VALENCIA (Spain) - It should have been three strikes and out for Sandra Ygueravide after a trio of gut punches that left this Spanish warrior in tears and questioning her love for 3x3.
"It was hard, it was devastating I would say," she said after the third cruel defeat within two years for Spain in major 3x3 competitions.
The first came at FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2019 when Spain were just one point away from beating Hungary in an overtime quarter-final classic. In trademark fashion, Ygueravide perfectly set up Aitana Cuevas who only needed to hit the open bucket from right in front to win the game.
It was an easy shot the towering Cuevas could hit in her sleep but the incredibly tense situation made it more difficult and she missed as Hungary had a lifeline. Like a magnet, perhaps it was destiny, the ball ended up in the hands of sharpshooter Dora Medgyessy , who did not miss from two to give Hungary an all-time-victory.
If left Spain stunned but they had a chance at erasing those painful memories as they powered to the final of the FIBA 3x3 Europe Cup 2019 against France. Once again it went to overtime only for France to win 14-12 leaving Spain with an all too familiar bitter taste.
Remarkably, the worse was still to come. With their Olympic qualifying dreams on the line against Japan, Spain were again locked in an overtime fight to the death. It couldn't happen again surely, they collectively thought.
But their worst nightmares were complete when Japan prevailed to end Spain's Olympic hopes. The agony of the defeat was so raw for Ygueravide that in the immediate aftermath she sat in the players' entrance tunnel in complete disbelief with the realization sinking in that all her toil had ended in more agony.
As tears rolled down her face, the 5ft. 8in (1.72m) sharpshooter couldn't hold back her emotions and her mood didn't improve any time soon.
"In the week after, we couldn't even talk to each other, see each other," she said. "We didn't know what had happened."
It would have been completely understandable if the pain was too unbearable to continue, but her love of 3x3 helped Ygueravide and her teammates get off the ground.
"We wanted to come back early to try and enjoy the 3x3 game we really love," she said.
It worked with Ygueravide rediscovering her passion for the game and the previous disappointment ignited a fire as she lit up the Women's Series.
On a mission, Ygueravide had never been better with her insane handles and finishing at the rim highlighting her MVP effort in Paris as Spain overcame their previous heartbreak to win gold at FIBA 3x3 Europe Cup 2021.
"We will never quit," Ygueravide said. "This is the game that we love and we're going to keep playing because it's what we enjoy most."
The speedy Spaniard's incredible end to 2021 was capped off by her becoming the No.1 ranked player in the world in an extraordinary achievement underlining her resiliency to overcome adversity.
The 37-year-old demonstrated to the whole world her pure love for 3x3 and inspired so many by the way she bounced back stronger after three of the most painful losses imaginable.
It's with good reason that Sandra Ygueravide is the women's No.1 player in the world.