Fener, Basketball AUS Issue Statements

20.01.2011

Penny Taylor

Fenerbahce remained the only undefeated side in the EuroLeague Women on Wednesday night by completing a season sweep of UMMC Ekaterinburg.

Laszlo Ratgeber's side improved to 10-0 in Group B and did so in style, winning 82-75.

They did so without Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor, two of the most celebrated players in the history of women's basketball, who left the club this month.

USA superstar Taurasi had her contract terminated by Fenerbahce earlier this month after testing positive for a banned substance and Taylor, the 2006 FIBA World Championship MVP, decided to go over the weekend.

Fenerbahce made an announcement about Taylor's departure late Wednesday afternoon before their game against UMMC while Basketball Australia have also issued a statement, including remarks by Taylor, about her decision to return.

The Basketball Australia statement said:

Australian Opals star Penny Taylor has decided to leave the current European Basketball season early and will return home to Melbourne this week.

Taylor, who has been playing for club Fenerbahce in the highly regarded EuroLeague, has cited personal reasons, including a family illness, for taking a break from the game.

"I have loved playing for such a proud club with such passionate fans. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with Fenerbahce, and regret that I must leave to address some personal issues in my life. I have therefore made the difficult decision that these things must take priority over basketball at this time."

Taylor was arguably the best player in the EuroLeague Women this season.

She added in the statement: "I know that the quality of the players on the team combined with the fighting spirit of the club will see their successful season continue, and I wish the players and the club the greatest success."

Fenerbahce are not short of talent.

Before the Christmas break, the club paid a transfer fee to MKB Euroleasing Sopron to acquire Angel McCoughtry, a member of Geno Auriemma's title-winning side at last year's FIBA World Championship for Women in the Czech Republic.

The club this week announced the arrival of Latvian Anete Jekabsone-Zogota from Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje.

Fener already had many of Turkey's national team players like Nevriye Yilmaz.

In addition to bringing in Taurasi from four-time defending EuroLeague Women champions Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje last summer, they added Serbian center Ivana Matovic, Hungary international Anna Vajda and Czech Republic guard Hana Horakova, the MVP of last year's World Championship.

Still, the loss of two high-profile players like Taurasi and Taylor is not what the club had wanted.

After several days of speculation that Taylor had left, the club finally put a media release about her departure on its website, www.fenerbahce.org.

It read:

Penny Taylor didn't want to believe the doping control results of Diana Taurasi, who is one of the best women basketball players in the world. Penny Taylor believes that she played an important role in Diana Taurasi's transfer (from Sparta&K to Fenerbahce) and when she learned that Diana had forbidden substances in her urine, she felt responsible for that.

In the Caferağa Arena, after the game between Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş CT, the staff responsible for the doping control randomly chose Penny's name for her to give (urine) samples but she refused to be tested.

The managers and directors of Fenerbahçe reminded her a couple of times that unless she took the test, she would have a fine. Finally our managers convinced her; but she wanted her test to be made in a laboratory in Köln, Germany. This situation was shared with the Turkish Basketball Federation and then she agreed to give a sample which was sent to the laboratory in Köln.

Penny Taylor thought that Diana Taurasi, who has played alongside her in the WNBA for the Phoenix Mercury, received unwarranted actions and judged unfairly. She thought that the same could happen to her, which is why she didn't want to go to the away game against Botaş and she decided to end her Fenerbahçe career.

One more time our directors and managers convinced her and she agreed to go to the away game against Botaş. After this game, although the Australian player played against Lotos Gdynia in the EuroLeague game on Thursday 13th January 2011, without any justified reason she didn't attend the practice on Monday 17 January and returned to the USA.

Despite the turmoil, Fenerbahce have coped well as was evident with their performance against UMMC.

The Fenerbahce coach, Laszlo Ratgeber, admitted he could not have been happier with the performance.

"We did a great job defensively tonight," he said.

"It is fantastic and unbelievable that we finished the Qualifying Round unbeaten and in first place - but the party only starts now.

"We need to work a lot on our chemistry.

"Tonight we won because of our heart but if we want to achieve a really historical result for Fenerbahce - to reach the Final Four - we need to play a lot better.

"Thanks to everybody for this unforgettable night."


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