Ratgeber Chooses Papp Over WNBA's Ujhelyi

17 September 2003
From PA International, Budapest

Hungary boss Laszlo Ratgeber has stuck to his guns and left USA-based centre Petra Ujhelyi out of his European Championship squad and instead included Krisztina Papp, even though she is not 100% fit.

Papp has had a foot problem but she logged minutes in two games against Serbia & Montenegro last week.

Ratgeber had warned Ujhelyi, on emergency standby for the Detroit Shock in the WNBA finals, that she would not be selected if she missed all of Hungary’s preparations for the tournament.

The 6ft 4in (192 cm) player had indicated that she couldn’t join the national team until Thursday - the day before the start of the tournament in Greece.

There have been calls in the Hungarian media for Ratgeber to reconsider, especially as the centre position is seen as a chink in their armour.

Ratgeber has not budged from his stance, saying this week that Hungary have moulded into a team during a tough summer programme, and a last minute appearance by a WNBA player would undermine spirit.

Ujhelyi, a rookie who attended the University of South Carolina, ultimately didn’t take part in any play-off games for the Shock who were crowned WNBA champions on Tuesday night.

Belgium have allowed Ann Wauters, their centre and one of Europe’s best players, to miss their entire summer while she was playing professionally in South Korea but she was deemed indispensable by Benny Mertens, the national team coach.

In the first warm-up game against Serbia & Montenegro, Susannah Horvath scored 14 straight points - 12 from three-point range - as Hungary grabbed a 39-37 half-time lead.

Serbia & Montenegro’s WNBA-player Gordana Grubin scored 13 of her 22 points in last 10 minutes while centres Slobodanka Tuvic & Daliborka Vilipic had 14 and 12 points, respectively, in the contest as they cruised to a 74-65 win.

Hungary led for much of the second game but in the fourth quarter ran out of steam and went five and a half minutes without a basket.

On their last possession, Hungary failed to get a shot off before the expiration of the 24-second shot clock.

Tuvic continued her top form in the second game with 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Both coaches agreed, perhaps fearing injuries, not to play the overtime, the result was a draw.

Ratgeber, despite the fourth quarter struggles, was in buoyant mood after the game.

“This was our last preparation match,” he said. “We we are a great and well-prepared unit ready to take on anyone.”

Hungary are in Group B and will play their games in Amaliada. They open their campaign against the Ukraine.


24.09.2003 - Jeff Taylor PA Sport

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