Brigitte Ardossi trips the Fire's Rachael Flanagan. Photo: Rohan Thomson
A shattered Brigitte Ardossi has apologised to Rachael Flanagan, her Canberra Capitals teammates and the WNBL for the foul which brought her impressive season to an abrupt halt this week.
The power forward is determined to make amends and keep her reputation in tact after the Capitals suspended her for the final three games of the season following her unsportsmanlike foul for tripping last Friday night.
But the ‘‘brain snap’’ could have more ramifications with the Capitals yet to decide whether Ardossi will be eligible to win the club’s most valuable player award after her standout campaign.
And in a bizarre twist, Ardossi is on track to win the WNBL’s player of the week award with 200 more votes than her nearest rival with voting to close on Wednesday.
Ardossi held back tears as she spoke for the first time after the incident with Townsville guard Flanagan.
Flanagan charged into Ardossi and when the Capitals star hit the ground, she ‘‘lashed out’’ with her foot and tripped her opponent.
‘‘There’s the embarrassment and disappointment in myself and I’m angry at myself, it’s uncharacteristic for it to happen,’’ Ardossi said.
‘‘I’m really sorry to Rachel Flanagan and the Townsville Fire. I apologise to my teammates and I’m sorry I’ve put the Canberra Capitals in this situation.
‘‘I’m human, everyone makes mistakes and in the heat of the moment I made a bad decision to react [at being knocked to the ground] and I’m handling the consequences now.’’
Making the Capitals’ decision even harder was the fact Ardossi’s absence leaves them with just nine fit players for the rest of the season.
Ardossi tried to apologise to Flanagan after the match, but tempers were still high and Flanagan waved her away.
To follow up, Ardossi sent Flanagan an email but is yet to get a response.
The WNBL tribunal will make a decision as early as Wednesday on what punishment it sees fit, but the Capitals took matters into their own hands and took the extraordinary step of a club-imposed ban.
Ardossi’s contract expires at the end of the season, but she has indicated her desire to remain in Canberra after the bitter taste of finishing this year on the sideline.
Coach Carrie Graf said Ardossi’s one indiscretion would not affect contract negotiations.
Ardossi has been the Capitals’ most consistent player this season, but Graf said there was no room for unsportsmanlike behaviour and conceded it could affect the 25-year-old’s eligibility for the MVP prize.
‘‘In the Brownlow Medal [AFL], it’s not just the talent you have on the floor, it encompasses a whole lot of things,’’ Graf said.
‘‘My initial thought without consultation is that it has to be considered [of ruling her out of the MVP], depending on the results of the tribunal.
‘‘We’ve taken action as a club that doesn’t suggest it’s the most valuable player, it’s unsportsmanlike play.
‘‘[Ardossi] brings a lot of wonderful things to this club and she’ll put this behind her and move on. Credit to her, she owned it and has never once said it didn’t happen.
‘‘It was a brain snap ... but it’s not something that we’d say, ‘that’s it for Brigitte Ardossi at this club’.’’
Ardossi accepted her punishment and error in judgment, but felt the ban for the rest of the season was excessive and was keen for the Capitals’ leadership group to have more input.
‘‘In the heat of the moment, I didn’t end up on the ground on my own,’’ Ardossi said.
‘‘The intensity, the heat and the passion we play under, my record is clean, I’ve given the Capitals two good years of basketball and to have this happen is definitely uncharacteristic.’’
But Graf said ‘‘tripping has no place in basketball’’ and stood by the decision made by her and chief executive Tony Jackson.
‘‘It wasn’t for open discussion, debate and negotiation. There was a deliberate trip of an opposing player and we don’t want that. I think we’ve taken appropriate action,’’ Graf said.
‘‘[Ardossi] had a hissy fit in the sandpit, but if you have a hissy fit you get a smack and go to your room and then come out when you’re good.
‘‘Brigitte has owned up to it, she’s said she’s sorry ... there’s no debate and it needed to be dealt with. People make mistakes, it’s not a great thing but there’s no blood on the floor and no one got injured.’’