Babcock McGraw: Quigley latest player to be dual citizen
It's becoming more and more common for American WNBA players to become citizens of other countries.
Former Chicago Sky guard Epiphanny Prince did this a few years ago when she took on Russian citizenship. She was then obligated to play for any Russian national team when asked, and in exchange, she instantly increased her off-season earning power.
Professional European basketball teams typically limit their rosters to just two Americans. As a "Russian," Prince has had more roster opportunities open to her, which has allowed her to command better salaries.
Guard Allie Quigley is the latest Chicago Sky player to add a dual citizenship status to her passport. Unlike many other American players who are walking this path, it hasn't been much of a stretch for Quigley to relate to her new identity.
Quigley, a native of Joliet and a former star at DePaul, now has Hungarian citizenship, an interesting coincidence since her grandfather John Prieboy is Slovakian -- a neighbor to Hungary with close cultural and political history.
"My grandpa still says some phrases in Slovakian," said Quigley, who just returned on Tuesday from Hungary, where she played in the EuroBasket tournament, which awards an Olympic berth to its winner.
Quigley missed 10 days and 2 games for the Sky while she fulfilled her contractual obligation. She averaged 17 points over four games, but Hungary went 1-3 and was eliminated. That allowed Quigley to return to Chicago earlier than expected.
"It's kind of exciting to be able to do something like that and it's becoming more and more common for WNBA players to do it," Quigley said. "I've been treated very well (in Hungary) and you're trying to represent them the best you can. My grandpa really liked it that I went (to Hungary). I've also played in Slovakia (during the off-seasons). I'll bring him back a bunch of things when I go over there. It's fun to do that."
Typically, Quigley has had nothing but fun overseas. She said she loves the culture and the quaintness of some of the old towns she has been stationed in. She's also a fan of European coffee and the importance people put on sitting for hours to enjoy it.
But this trip managed to put Quigley a little bit on edge.
"I really had mixed feelings about it," Quigley said. "I don't like leaving (the Sky) in the middle of the season. That was frustrating. I've never had to do anything like that before.
"You just have to decide that when you're over there, you're totally there. And when you're back here, you're totally here."
Quigley was the WNBA's sixth woman of the year last season after averaging a career-high 11.2 points per game. She is anxious to get back into a rhythm with the Sky, which rewarded her for last season with a 3-year contract extension.
This will be Quigley's longest stint with any WNBA team in her seven-year career. She's played for a total of five teams.
"It meant a lot to me to get that," Quigley said of her extension. "I feel really good knowing where I'll be for the next few years, especially since it's at home in Chicago.
"I just want to be able to be really consistent for this team and help us win any way I can."
Already, the Sky has lost a starter in forward Tamera Young. She injured her right thumb in preseason practice and continued to irritate it as the season got underway.
She played in the first four games, but it became increasingly difficult for her to tolerate the pain.
It turns out she tore a ligament, and had surgery for it on Monday. Young will be out for at least the next month.
"You don't realize how much you utilize your thumb until something like this happens," Young said. "I tried to play through it but it was tough. I had my hand wrapped up, but I was so afraid of getting it hit again. I could tell I was starting to play tentatively.
"I don't want to sit out. This is going to be really hard. But I didn't want this to get worse. I figured, get this taken care of now instead of waiting and possibly being out for longer later."
Young has never been out before. At least not for a significant amount of time. Through high school, college and her entire eight-year WNBA career, Young says she has never missed back-to-back games.
"I just know my body well and God has always given me the strength to endure pain and all the minor injuries here and there without sitting out," Young said. "This will be different. Hopefully, we'll have other people step up."
Home, sweet home:
The Sky has been away from home for a long time.
The season opener was a home game on June 5 and the second home game of the season isn't until Wednesday against the Atlanta Dream. Game tips at 11:30 a.m. at Allstate Arena.
Follow Patricia on Twitter @babcockmcgraw