15 - 25
June 2023
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Could Hungary end their 32-year wait for a medal?

LJUBLJANA (Slovenia) - When Hungary beat reigning champions Serbia to make it directly to the Quarter-Finals at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2023, it was time to scramble for the history books.

Not because anything significant had already been achieved - or at least other than to impress everybody and repeat their last eight spot from the 2019 edition. It was simply in preparation for this Hungary team maybe having the necessary attributes to take the next important steps.

Yes, opportunity knocks (very loudly) ahead of their Quarter-Final meeting with Czech Republic.



The potential goals to be achieved are so enticing and in a historical context, there are some relatively epic waits to be ended if they can continue their excellent showing so far. 

Hungary's rich basketball tradition when legends such as Dalma Ivanyi, Judit Balogh, Zsuzsanna Boksay, Lenke Kiss, Katalin Ratvay-Czirakine or Agnes Nemeth all stepped out to shine remains in the very distant past. But the Class of 2023 are now so close to pulling this back into the present and into the middle of the FIBA Women's EuroBasket radar.

- They last made the made the Semi Finals in 1997 and they are one win away from ending that 26 year wait. 

- They last stood on the podium clutching a medal in 1991 and they are two wins away from ending that 32 year wait.

- They last appeared in the Final in 1956 and they are two wins away from ending that 67-year wait.

- They last featured at the Olympics at the 1980 Moscow Games and they are now one win away from making it to the FIBA Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.


Head coach Norbery Szekely is understandably trying to keep everyone's feet on the ground: "Obviously, it would be foolish to say this is not on my mind, probably on all of our minds, that we are at the doorstep of a great opportunity, but it is just an opportunity and nothing more," he stated.

Hungary's rich basketball history includes seven FIBA Women's EuroBasket medals 

"We don’t need talk about what happened in the past, we only need to focus on what will happen on Thursday. We must not talk about what happened in the group or to the Hungarian national teams in the long past. We have always said that we have to go step by step, so we only need talk about being able to play with such concentration that we have a chance to impose our will. Through this, we can achieve a result that will take us forward," insisted Szekely.

Of course some people will point out Hungary lost to the now eliminated Turkey, so there has to be caution. Although it felt like they gift-wrapped that one-point victory. In spite of this, there are so many positive factors that could now help them to realize their dreams. 

What are the reasons Hungary could relive their glory days in Ljubljana?

Momentum and belief

A preparation win against Spain and some observers topping them to indeed reach the Quarter-Finals was a reflection of a quiet confidence. Kind of dark horses, but ever more rapidly riding into the light. Now they have beaten Serbia and are perhaps in the so-called 'better half of the bracket' they do seem to have important momentum.

An impressive coach 

He's been with the team for several years and knows these players inside-out. Very passionate in games, he seems to have a great relationship with his players and when things go wrong, such as in the Turkey game when he arguably made mistakes that were costly, he reacted well. The game plan against Serbia worked great and he involved players off his bench more than ever and gave them an opportunity. Now his job is more difficult because he has to balance supporting the players dealing with pressure and expectation, but at the same time, maybe continue to impose the need for Hungary to develop 'a killer instinct' that all the elite teams have.

Teamwork and the best blend

Hungary have really had a good time at youth level over the last decade or so, not a coincidence and the fruition of some development work and planning. Now, many of these players from that first or second tranche are embedded as high producing seniors. And, there are more younger players who didn't even make the roster. With valuable experience from the likes of headline center Bernadett Hatar and unsung heroes like Dora Nagy-Ruff for example, as well as players performing so well like captain Debora Dubei, it is a nice mix. Perhaps most importantly of all, Hungary play team basketball in every way. Their ethos is what they produce and it is good to watch for fans. 

A standout player in Kiss, who is pushing for All-Star Five status

As we see elsewhere in the competition with the likes of Belgium, you can play great team basketball but still need stars and players who are stepping up and attaining high levels to lead the way. With Hungary, Virag Kiss has been terrific and was monumental in that win against Serbia - as well as catching the eye in the other Group Phase games. She is playing with confidence and keeps it beautifully simple.  

Was the performance against Serbia her best game in a national team vest?



"I think so, or at least if we consider what was at stake in this game, then definitely," smiled Kiss.

"I've probably had better games, but this is the one that meant the most, and I'm really happy that I could play on this level at the Women’s EuroBasket."

The forward also endorses the assessment of Hungary being equipped with the tools to go places and is acutely aware of how they also now need to manage expectation and the pressure that has landed.

She said: "I think it is the most cohesive team we have ever had. I feel like we have a great chemistry on and off the court. It just feels fantastic to play for this team. 

"I feel every moment that if there is a difficulty, we tend to stick together even more. We really work together as a real team, and that's what drives us forward."

She continued: "Obviously we're feeling a little bit of pressure, and we're putting a bit of it on ourselves, because we've got a great chance of reaching the Semi-Finals. On the other hand, I don't think we have to think about it that way, because we've already achieved some very big things.

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A post shared by VIRAG KISS (@viragkiss__)


"Of course, it would be complete, if we could win this next game, but I think we should see it as a whole country cheering us on to do it. We knew that we were destined for great things, because we felt from the beginning of the preparation that this was a very good team and a very good age group. I think there is a minimal burden on us, but we will turn that into motivation and I don't think it will overwhelm us," she stressed. 

Hungary will play Czech Republic on Thursday, June 22 in Ljubljana when we will find out if they end at least one of these long waits.