BallinEurope so rarely gets to write about basketball issues from home base Hungary, so it was quite cheering to see a little coverage of László Ratgeber, new coach of Fenerbahçe Istanbul’s Euroleague Women’s team, on FIBA.com.
“Just ‘YouTube’ Laszlo Ratgeber and see what comes up,” encourages writer Jeff Taylor. Readers of this website know BiE needs no further encouragement and hoo boy, what a find Mr. Ratgeber makes after all. Click on the “Continue Reading” link below to witness the musical “stylings” of Ratgeber and the City Rebels.
On the plus side, Ratgeber is sober in self-assessment in the FIBA interview, stating that such a diversion “is just a hobby. But I know who I am. I don’t mix things up. I know I’m a basketball coach first.”
And so, it appears, the Hungarian pop music industry need not fear.
Official FIBA article by Jeff Taylor follows.
(FIBA) – …The 2010-11 campaign will indeed be a new adventure for Ratgeber. He will move to Istanbul and coach a team that is trying to join the elite in the women’s game: Fenerbahçe.
In Europe, the Russian clubs have dominated.
“Of course, our goal is to make the Final Four,” Ratgeber says, “a place where Fener has never been before.”
Most people expect them to make it, too.
Fener have not just brought in Ratgeber, oh no: They’ve also splashed out big bucks on maybe the best women’s player of all time in Diana Taurasi. The United States Olympian played for Ratgeber at Spartak Moscow Region and helped him win the EuroLeague.
“Obviously, signing Diana Taurasi is a sensational move,” Ratgeber said. “I said it would be a great job to coach Fener, since I’ll have an opportunity to see the Maradona of women’s basketball train and play every day.”
Voted as the Final Four MVP the last two seasons, Taurasi won’t have to do it alone; 2006 FIBA World Championship MVP Penny Taylor of Australia has come to Istanbul as well.
“Penny Taylor is also a fantastic player,” Ratgeber said. “I am especially glad to be able to finally coach her. A forward-tandem like this on my team, it’s a dream come true.”
Next season is the first under the new rules in Europe that a player must compete under the nationality of the country she represents in international competition.
In the past, Taurasi played at Spartak with an Italian passport and Taylor as a Brit. Taurasi must now play as an American, and Taylor as an Australian.
“Since the overseas spots have been filled on our roster – what a pity that Taylor’s British and Taurasi’s Italian passport are not valid in European basketball any longer – we can strengthen our team only with European players,” Ratgeber explains. “That’s why we have signed Ivana Matovic, surely one of the best centers on The Continent. I am sure she is coming as a highly motivated player, and I hope next season I’ll be able to write down this sentence: ‘The best center in Europe – not just one of the best.’”
Serbia’s Matovic is moving to the club from Polish giants Lotos Gdynia, whom she represented in last year’s EuroLeague Women All-Star Game.
“And we still have a couple of names on our minds, so the boosting period for the team is not over yet.”
Hungary international Anna Vajda, who once played for Ratgeber at MiZo Pecs and with Hungary’s national team, has been linked with the team.
“Let us not forget about the Turkish contingent, that is the heart and soul of the team for me,” Ratgeber says.
“Birsel [Varderli], Meral, and Şaziye [İvegin] on the outside positions, [Nevriye] Yilmaz and Nevin [Nevlin] inside: They’ll have to lead the way in aggressive defense and brave and creative offense. They will play an important role. I have seen them many times as an opposing coach, either at Fener or on the Turkish national team, and I have very great respect for what they have accomplished and I trust them unconditionally.”
Ratgeber parted ways with Spartak at the beginning of last season after leading Spartak to the European title.