Now the Spanish sensation is making waves in her freshman year at Lamar University in Texas
Abalde, who helped Spain finish fourth in 2007, has been short-listed for FIBA Europe's Young Player of the year award.
The 1.90m forward, who made her debut in the Liga Femenina at the age of just 15 with Celta, says she couldn't be happier playing the college game in America.
"I've adapted really well to living in Texas, better than I expected," she said.
"I was looking forward to trying a new experience and I thought it would be an incredible opportunity in every sense.
"The rules are different, basketball here is very physical.
"The NCAA is not a professional competition, and all the girls are quite young."
Abalde made an immediate impact when equaling the university record of 44 points scored in one given game against Wiley College.
"I didn't expect it to be a big deal but it was and that's always nice to get some attention," she said.
Who knows, if Spain earn one of the five places still on offer for the Beijing Games when they host the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in June, Abalde could find her way onto the squad.
"I know I need to work very hard and try to improve each day, regardless of where I play," she said.
"My aim and dream is to play at the Olympic Games."
– but the sailors praise the new boats