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7 Alba TORRENS (Spain)
27/01/2015
Paul Nilsen's Women's Basketball Worldwide
to read

Super, smiling Alba

NEWCASTLE (Paul Nilsen's Women's Basketball Worldwide) - Watching Alba Torrens play basketball is one of life's genuine pleasures.

Having the privileged position of being able to sometimes chat with her after games and stand alongside such a brilliant player is another pleasure and something I truly appreciate.

That is because I am a bona-fide fan and it sometimes makes trying to be professional when you are in genuine awe of player and perhaps even a little 'star struck' very difficult indeed.

But it is a wonderful emotion to have to control - that feeling of excitement which goes with meeting such a stellar talented person.

Women's basketball needs more special players like Alba and I was thrilled that she took the FIBA Europe Player of the Year award yesterday - and not for the first time of course.

She was excellent at last year's EuroLeague Women Final Four. In particular, we won't forget that brilliant Semi-Final performance to dump out tournament hosts UMMC Ekaterinburg, who have of course since signed her.

She also lit up the FIBA World Championship for Women with Spain on Turkish soil, helping them to a historic first Final appearance at the event and in doing so, simultaneously re-opening the debate as to why she would want to play in the WNBA when she loves representing her country so much.

It seems strange to think that Alba has been around for so long now and of course had a breakthrough tournament way back at the Olympics in Beijing - and landed her first award the following year as FIBA Europe Young Women's Player of the Year for 2009.

The tumultuous adulation she receives from the many fans who adore her game and especially in her homeland is thoroughly deserved.

This distinguished accolade for the second time in her career is a real badge of honour - although one she probably won't wear with ease.

Not exactly a reluctant star, the unassuming nature of the dynamic wing player means that she will probably be thankful, but just want to get on with the next game. 

There is of course one seriously major reason that she may quietly reflect on the satisfaction of being rubber stamped as a world superstar and potential true great of the women's game.

That is because between receiving both Player of the Year gongs, there was the peak of two EuroLeague Women titles and a EuroBasket Women title in 2013.

However, there was a dark and frustrating period when she sustained a serious injury.

One which not only sidelined her for a long time, but also had most of us worried about the possibility she might not ever be quite the same magical player again.

How wrong we were.

Indeed when I heard she had won this latest award, I thought about watching her at the DIVS Arena for Galatasaray last year en-route to EuroLeague Women glory.

But I also put it into the context of watching her a year earlier in 2013 for Galatasaray, when she was visibly struggling to find form and fitness after her lengthy absence from the game.

That is why I am so thrilled not only for Alba that she worked so hard physically and mentally to return to the peak of her powers, but also for the women's game as a whole.

Seeing her smiling and enjoying her basketball so much again is never anything less than a joy for any fan of women's basketball like me.

Felicidades Alba!

Paul Nilsen

FIBA

FIBA's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA.

FIBA takes no responsibility and gives no guarantees, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise, for the content or accuracy of the content and opinion expressed in the above article.

Paul Nilsen

Paul Nilsen

As a women's basketball specialist for FIBA and FIBA Europe, Paul Nilsen eats, sleeps and breathes women’s hoops and is incredibly passionate about promoting the women’s game - especially at youth level. In Women’s Basketball Worldwide, Paul scours the globe for the very latest from his beloved women’s basketball family.