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The taste of a historic success

The team celebrates promotion after beating Náutico Tenerife.
The team celebrates promotion after beating Náutico Tenerife. / FERNANDO GONZÁLEZ
  • Asisa Alhaurín de la Torre, who a few months ago were struggling to find enough players for training sessions, have now been promoted to the second division

Everybody agrees that this season has been “difficult”. Maybe that's why the victory achieved last weekend at Los Guindos tasted extra good for the president, trainer and players of Asisa Alhaurín de la Torre. At Christmas, Francis Trujillo found himself with only four or five players in some training sessions, which made it very complicated to prepare for competition. Now, the team has made history by earning promotion to Liga Femenina 2, the national basketball second division, after three wins out of three in the playoffs - the last against Náutico Tenerife, 48-68, on Sunday. It is years since any club from Malaga has reached this level.

After the third match, the Asisa players watched a replay on a giant screen in the pavilion. Many, like Elisabet Iborra, still couldn't believe that they had beaten the favourites on Saturday. “We knew Adareva was a very strong and physically superior team, but we put our hearts into it. Next year will be very important and there will have to be changes, but we're ready to take on whatever comes at us,” she said.

The captain, Lorena Liñán, celebrated the victory with mixed emotions, because she is not sure if she will be continuing. “My personal situation is complicated and I don't know if I can carry on. It's such a shame that this has only happened now, when I'm 35, but that's the way it goes. At last we have a second-division team in Malaga, and it would be good if other Malaga players joined the team. There are a lot of very good players out there,” she said.

Part of the success was due to Trujillo, who had to solve numerous difficulties to maintain the level of the team. “It has been the most complicated season of my life, and I have been a coach for 25 years. Injuries and personal circumstances meant we were often training with very few players. At Christmas it looked as if this ship was sinking,” explained Trujillo. It didn't sink, though, thanks to American player Jay White joining the team in February. “She made all the difference. The team got their confidence back. The ones who were about to abandon ship decided to stay on, and that made us stronger.”

Now it is time to think about the next season. The demands of the sport and financial situation mean some changes are needed. The club's main sponsor, Asisa, and the local council will continue to give their support. Club president Juan Pedro Parra says that “Our only strategy is to use common sense, as we have done until now, and look after our fans, who are really important to us,” he says.

He would also like Francis Trujillo to continue : “If he wants to, he'll be staying with us. He deserves the credit for all this,” he says. Trujillo, however, isn't sure. He admits he needs time to consider, after such a difficult season.