New La Salle coach Aldin Ayo accepted the surprising decision of Joshua Torralba to leave the team as he expects the other guards in the Green Archers to fill up the void.
“Of course, there’s a feeling of regret, but at the same time, I’m glad that the kid was honest. He told us he’s no longer happy and motivated playing basketball so he decided to quit. It’s good for the team that he decided right away so we still have time to adjust,” Ayo told FOX Sports on Tuesday.
Torralba, who spent the last two years with the team, including a one-year residency, has announced his decision to forego his final year with La Salle on his Instagram account.
The senior guard has decided to return to the US and finish his studies at his former school, the University of Texas-Pan America.
“To set the foundation flat with pure honesty, my passion to play the game has drastically drifted away from me and a change of heart for my future endeavors. I believe that in whatever I do wherever I go, God will make me prosper with basketball or not,” Torralba said on his emotional Instagram post on Monday night.
The 6-foot-2 combo guard, who played for Emilio Aguinaldo College in the NCAA in 2011 before getting an invitation at University of Texas-Pan America, also took the opportunity to thank La Salle and its supporters, especially their basketball patron Danding Cojuangco.
“I am greatly blessed to be part of the De La Salle University basketball team and nothing of my decision is due to them, coaches, managers, school, staff, but solely on me. There are no words to describe how grateful I am to be part of the most prestigious university in the Philippines and powerhouse basketball program,” he said.
“From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to all those who supported me from the La Salle community throughout the Philippines and other countries, alumni, journalists, Animo squad, fan clubs, my family, friends, coaches, and everyone who has given me their support since I arrived.
“To my teammates and to the previous and new coaching staff, thank you for the long ride last year, the friendship, and accepting my decision. To the managers and especially Boss Danding, thank you so much for the unbelievable guidance and help you gave me through it all.”
Despite Torralba’s sudden departure, Ayo believes the Archers can easily cope up with a loaded backcourt.
“There are plenty who can easily step up in Joshua’s spot in the team so it won’t be really hard for us to cover up his absence. The players are really training hard at practice,” Ayo said.
In his only season playing in the UAAP, Torralba averaged 7.6 points (5th in the team) along with 2.7 rebounds and nearly one assist and a steal per game.
Torralba, who is best remembered for his dagger trey in La Salle’s big win over archrival Ateneo in the first round, wished the Archers the best as they bid to return to the finals and win the championship, which they last did in 2013.
“I believe the best is yet to come for you guys and I pray for the best this season and more. I’ll be watching games and supporting ya’ll back home. Animo La Salle! GOD BLESS,” he posted.
Ayo will be counting on the leadership of veteran superstar Jeron Teng, who will spearhead the team loaded with talented players in Thomas Torres, Andrei Caracut, Prince Rivero and Cameroonian Ben Mbala, who will finally debut next season.