Time Almost Up For Ujhelyi

11 September 2003

Hungarian coach Laszlo Ratgeber is close to ruling Detroit Shock centre Petra Ujhelyi out of his
plans for the European Championships.

Ratgeber must replace injured centre Krisztina Papp and his first choice is Ujhelyi, but the former University of South Carolina player is on standby for the Shock, who are in the WNBA finals.

She could be included on the team's play-off roster if a squad member gets hurt and she can't join the Hungarians until the day before the European Championships, which begin on September 19.

Ratgeber, who has been putting his team through the paces twice a day in the Dezso Lauber Sport Hall in Pecs, has said he doesn't like including  a player who hasn't had any preparation with the squad and seems to be leaning towards naming Ildiko Szakacs as Papp's replacement.

She, and Mizo Pecs have been called up to train with the national team.

Ildiko was the Hungarian Universaide Team's most valuable player in South Korea at the World University Games earlier this summer.

The Ujhelyi issue aside, Hungary are in good spirits.

They have shown in friendlies this summer that they are capable of beating most teams in Greece, where the championships will be staged.

"We have played in three preparation tournaments," Ratgeber said.

"The first was right after a tough physical training regime, but we managed to win at home.

"We played our best basketball in the second tournament in Greece."

In a third tournament in Grenoble, France, Hungary bounced back from a pair of defeats to France and Australia by beating Russia.

"We did not train enough before the final tournament due to travelling and other circumstances, and we got a slap on the face from France," Ratgeber said.

"We played better against Australia but still lost. The last match gave us a boost and restored much needed confidence.

"I think we surprised Russia, in my opinion they looked tired. The Russian coach (Vadim) Kapranov, who is renowned for his temper, just left the gym without a word or handshake, but that's how it is."

Centre Eva Seres, meanwhile, is recovering from her foot injury.

The team's record - seven wins and just two defeats during the preparation period - have left the squad upbeat.

In addition to working out in Pecs, the coaching staff and players are analysing the matches on video in order to make final adjustments.


24.09.2003 - Jeff Taylor PA Sport

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