She left Spain at the age of 22, champion of the Euroleague with Salamanca and named the best player in Europe. She and she has returned home at 33, after three seasons at Galatasaray and eight at Yekaterinburg, the Russian giant, and with six European champion crowns. Alba Torrens (Benissalem, Mallorca; 1989) signed for Valencia Basket last summer and closed a majestic cycle in Russia amid the noise caused by the war with Ukraine. This afternoon (5:00 p.m., Teledeporte) she captains the Spanish team against Hungary in Huelva after beating Iceland 120-54 on Thursday (nine points from Torrens). A victory for Miguel Méndez’s group would leave the team one finger away from qualifying for the 2023 Eurobasket after missing the last World Cup.
“It has been a long time away, in which I have been very good, and now it is the return home after 11 years,” says Torrens during the concentration of Spain. The forward (1.91m) returns with a shirt full of stripes: another Euroleague with Galatasaray, four with Yekaterinburg and a new award for the best player in Europe in 2014. “I felt it was time to return. I have been very comfortable in Russia, otherwise I would not have continued for so many years. I have had a very good experience. I have shared a team with the best players in the world and in a club that has bet a lot on women’s basketball. The human part is what remains. I was with wonderful people who welcomed me to Russia. But with the current situation, when the war broke out, I had to rethink things and I decided to return, with the sadness of leaving what had been my place for so long”, revives the Mallorcan.
Bombs also fell on the runway. Russian teams were excluded from the Euroleague (the women’s competition depends on FIBA), and many stars packed their bags. “If it wasn’t for the war, I might have stayed longer. But that was the moment and my reality. Who knows what would have happened”, explains Alba. Her destiny was Valencia Basket, a club that won the Eurocup in April 2021 and that this Friday announced a record budget of 2.5 million euros for this season. “It is a team that in recent years has done things very well. In a very short time they have placed themselves among the national elite, they have won the Eurocup… It is a very exciting project because of what they have been doing and what they are proposing, with a mentality of going little by little, with patience, betting on the young players from the quarry. I try to add to that goal of continuing to grow, to compete at a good level in the League and with the illusion of the first year in the Euroleague. It is also important to be close to home, to share these moments with my people”, affirms the forward. Valencia is third in its Euroleague group and fourth in the Endesa League.
Torrens came to rebounding basketball. She is the daughter of a Third Division soccer player, as a child she only thought about soccer until a school teacher convinced her to try the basket. Thus began a career that led her to make her national team debut at the age of 18 at the 2008 Beijing Games. Since then, there have been 183 matches in red and eight medals, including European gold in 2013 and 2017, world silver in 2014 and the Olympic one in 2016. A streak of success that Spain saw cut short when it was left out of the last World Cup. The reconquest begins with the current qualifying phase for the next Eurobasket, with Torrens as captain and leader after the withdrawal of Laia Palau, who is still in the team as team leader, already on the other side of the touchline. “From last year I’m left with the fact that we didn’t get the results we wanted, but the team competed against the best in the European Championships and the Games. The line between winning and losing is very fine. Many games were very even, just like when we won. The thing is to work, prepare, look at the day to day. Our strength must be to compete. And be aware of how difficult it is to be at the top”, says Alba.
The champion who left and who has returned also looks to the future at 33 years of age. “I go season by season. I try to be as honest with myself as possible to be honest with others as well.” His is the most brilliant record in the League and in the national team, but Torrens parks the past and the cups. “It is now. At Valencia I am the new piece of the puzzle. I must find where to place myself and how. I don’t understand it any other way than to have humility. It matters how I can help, integrate my game into the team to make it work. I’m not the same person who left. We are changes. And in Russia I learned to have different roles. Sometimes it was difficult, because she had done it less and had to learn it. You can’t always help in the same way, you’re not always on top.”
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