By Jeff Taylor
|Péter Lóránt and Hungary failed to qualify to EuroBasket 2011 but are motivated to book a spot for 2013|
The expansion of the EuroBasket to 24 teams has been a positive development for those national sides that rarely, if ever, got a whiff of competing in the Final Round.
The level of basketball on the old continent is so good, however, that even with a bigger tournament, there will never be the guarantee of participation for any country.
Qualifying campaigns are tough.
Hungary know that fact only too well.
They went into an Additional Qualifying Round last summer with Finland and Portugal and needed to finish among the top two sides to reach the EuroBasket in Lithuania, yet came in third.
That setback has only fueled the desire of the Hungarians to make it to EuroBasket 2013 in Slovenia.
One of the players looking to set the record straight is Hungary forward Peter Lorant.
"I think everybody is going to be more motivated because of last year when we didn't do so well and lost all four games," Lorant said to Basketball World News.
"Everyone will have extra motivation to put it right and I think with a new coach and a new team, we can do it."
Hungary recently appointed Laszlo Ratgeber, the former coach of the Hungarian women's team.
Ratgeber coached the Fenerbahce women last season.
"Laszlo Ratgeber is a big name in Hungarian basketball but it will be his first time as a men's coach," Lorant said.
Ratgeber has a challenging job on his hands.
The top two sides from each of the six groups, and the four best third-place teams, will progress to Slovenia.
What is it that Hungary must do well to reach the EuroBasket?
"We have a tough group in trying to make it to the European Championship," Lorant said.
"But I think now, we are getting better.
"The other thing is that we have to be a very good team.
"We know that we don't have the best players, but if we play as the best team, we can make it."
Before Lorant goes into battle with Hungary again, he has plenty of hard games to play in Spain's Liga Endesa.
He spent the previous five seasons in the LEB with Burgos and last summer, signed for Lagun Aro GBC in San Sebastian.
"It's going well so far," he said.
"I had an injury for nine weeks, and I just came back two weeks ago.
"I had a stress fracture and this happens sometimes, but the team treated me very well and gave me a special programme, so I feel better."
Lorant says the level of competition is much higher in the Liga Endesa.
"There is a big difference from playing in the LEB and the Liga Endesa," he said.
"I love this level and I hope I can be a part of this for several more years.
"I'm working hard and I think we have a good team and I'm really happy in San Sebastian."