NEW YORK — Satou and Nyara Sabally were never competitive with each other growing up in Germany. Their mom made sure of that.
The sisters, two years apart in age, will play against each other for the first time when Dallas visits New York on Sunday in a nationally televised WNBA game on ABC.
“You know, our mom, she always used the Klitschko brothers as an example. She said, yeah, their mom never wanted them to fight against each other. And I think that has something that it kind of carried over to us,” said Satou, who is two years older than Nyara. “So we will never have a rivalry or a fight against each other. We want to uplift each other. And yeah, like I said, we’re going to shine individually, but each in their own way. But we’re never … we will never battle like that.”
Nyara agreed there’s no sibling rivalry at all between them.
“Maybe we might have played a game of horse at some point, but no, we wouldn’t play 1-on-1 because it really just wasn’t a thing,” she said. “We’re both excited to share the floor, whether it’s with each other or against each other, because we haven’t done that before.”
Nyara said her brother and sister-in-law will be at the game, while the Saballys’ parents will be watching in Germany.
“She’s going to cry. She’s going to have tears in her eyes,” Satou said of her mom. “I already know that.”
This isn’t the first time sisters have squared off in the WNBA. Former No. 1 draft picks Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike played against each other when Nneka was on Los Angeles and Chiney was in Connecticut. The Samuelson sisters, Katie Lou and Karlie, also played against each other. Now both pairs of sisters are teammates in Los Angeles.
The Saballys were teammates at Oregon, but never had the chance to be on the court at the same time. Nyara tore her ACL before her freshman year and then re-tore it playing for the German national team.
When the younger Sabally was finally healthy enough to play, her older sister had declared for the WNBA draft, leaving school early. Satou was taken second by the Dallas Wings in 2020. Nyara was selected fifth by the New York Liberty in 2022. She sat out last season while recovering from a right knee injury sustained in college.
“All through college she was saying every time, ‘Satou, I just want to play.’ And I knew that every time she came back for the NCAA Tournament here, she always looked great,” Satou said. “And I think now she’s come to a state where she’s adapted to America. You know, coming from a different country, there’s a lot of time to adapt. And I think now her body is at a point where she finally did that and she’s very explosive and good.”
Nyara has been playing about 10 minutes a game for New York this season and making the most of her time, averaging 5.3 points. Satou, who has been plagued by injuries herself early in her career, playing only 44 games total in her first three years, has looked great so far this season. She’s averaging 22.4 points and 10.6 rebounds for the Wings.
The pair hope to get a chance to play together in the future on the German national team. Germany is the host of the 2026 Women’s World Cup.
“I’m sacrificing the summer now with Germany to play here, but I think that we will, on a bigger stage,” Satou said. “We will definitely try to play together again.”