Alba Torrens placeholder image, probably the player with the most offensive talent of the current Spanish team, lived the last Eurobasket from a hotel room. A positive for coronavirus left her and her partner without a tournament Tamara abalde. The experience made him “take perspective” and, back to the Tokyo Olympics, his slogan is “live in the moment”.
Nor the successes of a team that had seven championships without getting off the podium; Neither the Eurobasket blow in which they fell in the quarterfinals against Serbia will help them in Tokyo, where they must focus on the present, the Spanish forward defends in a conversation with the EFE Agency.
With eight medals in her track record, the Mallorcan player (Binisalem, 1989) reflects on the fine line that separates the success they have accumulated in recent years, and the disappointment of the last European event. He assures that this team can compete against anyone, and even meet again in a final against the almighty United States, unbeaten since Barcelona 1992.
– Question (Q): How do you know to be back with the national team after the coronavirus robbed you of the Eurobasket?
– Answer (R): The truth is that I am very happy to be here again, to be with the team again, preparing a very special championship like the Olympics. It is true that we are all going through a hard and difficult time with this pandemic, but hey, the important thing was that we were well, and now it is past and new opportunities are emerging.
– Q: Let’s take a position at the moment when you and Tamara Abalde were announced that they had tested positive, how was the situation?
– A: It was not only because of us, I believe that we are experiencing difficult times worldwide and what Tamara and I did was gain perspective. We were feeling fine, we were grateful for it, because right now you never know, this virus has caused a lot of pain, and we tried to support the team in the way we could.
It is true that they were uncertain and difficult days, not only for Tamara and me, but for everyone. It was three days before the championship, we all had to adapt to this situation, and it was not easy, because this goes beyond basketball, it was a health issue.
– Q: Were you able to watch the games on television or are you one of those who cannot support them without being able to play?
– A: Of course I saw all the games. You have more nerves from the outside and being away, but I think we showed once again that we can compete at the highest level against the best teams and it was a matter of details. We know that the line of winning and losing is very fine, but we returned to compete at European level against great teams.
– Q: In fact, they were eliminated by Serbia, who later became champions, and the line was as fine as a free kick.
– A: Exactly. It is important to make this reflection. Of course we wanted another result, but we must reflect that we compete against the best teams, face to face against the European champion, a team like Serbia. In the end it is a very fine line that can lead you to fight for the medals or not, but the team has to be very aware of it, that you can win or lose but we are at the highest level to compete.
– Q: In friendlies it seemed to be a settled issue, but can the Eurobasket serve as an incentive for Tokyo?
– A: I believe that now it is a different championship, in the end the important thing is to be in this moment, to prepare ourselves for this championship. Neither the past years, nor the past championship, help us or do not help us to be present in this one. The important thing is to focus on this moment.
From the two preparation games we did, we get positive things and we do self-criticism with things that can be improved, and that is what we want, to arrive the best prepared for this first game in Tokyo and focus on the first three games of the group, not on more there.
This is a fun, special selection
– Q: How is this selection on the inside, who cheers, who plays jokes?
– A: I would tell you that it is a funny selection, that at every moment some of them come out with a joke. It is true that we have a very good atmosphere, at times when there is all seriousness and we work, but we have moments when we have a good time, we enjoy the road in these championships and this experience. It is special to be in the selection, in all we feel.
– Q: You are somewhere in the middle between players like Laia Palau, who is close to finishing her career, and the youngest, like Raquel Carrera or Maite Cazorla.
– A: I don’t know about Laia if I’m going to retire before her (laughs) Young women are a force, I see strength in diversity and I think it is a two-way street. They are giving us a lot of things, both on the court and off, and maybe those of us who have more experience from having played for more years contribute other things. This is the strength we have, we all learn from everyone and that is where I see that balance can be found.
– Q: In these Games, as in all of them, the United States are favorites, they have not lost since Barcelona 1992. Some of the stars of ‘Team USA’ have been or are your teammates in the Russian UMMC Yekaterinburg, is the difference so huge?
– A: Yes, it is no longer because we say so, the results show that the United States is at another level, and not only because of the talent of its players, but also physically. Especially in their inner game, which is very powerful, where it is difficult to attack and defend them. They are very high quality players also on the outside line. They have many tactical, talented and physical resources and their results show that they have been the best all these years.
– Q: They had them in front of them in the final of Rio 2016 (101-72), is there any way to get the hang of them: to be fast, defend and steal a lot …?
– A: The truth is that I would not know exactly how. There is no magic formula, but I think that if you have to look for the impossible it would be to go to their game to score a lot, it could be the way to try to beat them.
“I have had the option to choose the WNBA, but I have preferred the selection”
– Q: What does the UMMC and Yekaterinburg have so that since 2014 it has become your home? This year he won his fourth Euroleague with them, his sixth on a personal level, against Avenida de Salamanca.
– A: For me all these years the Yekaterinburg project, betting year after year to make a team to compete to the fullest, has been a motivation. And then feel comfortable, both in the club and in the city and with the people I live with. I only have words of thanks for the way they welcomed me, how they are treating me, and I feel privileged with some of the best players in the world every year.
– Q: You will have been asked many times why you have not tried the American WNBA, because it will not be due to a lack of interest from the teams.
– A: I always say that I am very grateful because I have had the opportunity and the option to choose, and I always say that it would have been a very good experience to grow because it is a very demanding league. It is a very personal decision, everyone has their own way. I preferred to be with the national team one hundred percent, and I look back and I am grateful for having been able to decide.
– Q: And go back to Spanish basketball?
– A: The Spanish league has risen a lot in level, it has been shown by Valencia in the Eurocup, Salamanca in the Euroleague final and the level of the league every weekend, the teammates of the national team and the foreigners who arrive. It may be one of the strongest leagues in Europe.
Personally, I don’t know. The following season I am excited and eager to return to Ekaterimbrugo and face the new challenge, and then it will be seen. I have not thought of the next one.
– Q: A new medal in Tokyo, would it be a dream or is it something realistic?
– A: I think the team is in the same position as in all the championships. To dream you have to dream, and you have to dream loud, and it is true that of course we dream of an Olympic medal, but at the same time this team is very realistic, because we saw that the line between winning and losing is very fine.
We know that we have already left the dream in the air, now what we do is focus on the day-to-day and the group stage, because if you don’t pass that stage you can’t think of anything else. That’s the goal, Korea, Serbia, Canada, and then we’ll see where we are. We know the great teams we are up against, and we know it will be difficult.