Imprisoned in Russia: The fate of US basketball players dominates the World Cup in Sydney

“A gentle mind full of love”
A dark shadow over the basketball world

Brittney Griner is still being held in Moscow. US basketball player arrested before Russian attack on Ukraine Said that she smuggled drugs. The 31-year-old denies that, but is a mortgage in a big dispute. The United States misses her a lot at the World Cup.

Before the World Cup in Sydney (September 22 to October 1), the fate of her teammate Brittney Griner, who was imprisoned in Russia, weighed heavily on basketball players in the United States. “It’s on the team’s mind every day. It’s tough, it’s really tough, especially because we’re representing the United States in this basketball tournament,” head coach Cheryl Reeve said.

Her players can communicate with Griner through email, sending “messages of love, support and strength”. Reeve, who described Griner as “a gentle soul full of love.” “We try hard for them and we do what we can.” Griner is “a big part of our lives, it’s a challenge.” Griner’s No. 15 jersey will not be worn by any US player in Sydney. “It’s the first way to honor her and keep her in our thoughts,” Reeve said.

Griner’s fate remains unclear

Brittney Griner, 31, was sentenced to nine years in prison for drug smuggling in Russia. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and longtime Phoenix Mercury player of the WNBA was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February after security found a container of cannabis oil in her luggage.

Her lawyer filed an appeal against the verdict. US President Joe Biden, who recently received Griner’s wife Cherelle in the White House, pledged the government’s support. Griner previously played for the Russian team UMMC Yekaterinburg during the WNBA break last year.

The United States is heading to the 4th consecutive World Cup in Australia. Griners’ absence marks the first time since 1994 that the United States will have an Olympic or World Cup winner on its roster. Apart from America, only the Australian organizers can show. Show the name of the World Cup among the 12 participants. The German national team does not qualify.

(This article was first published on Wednesday, September 21, 2022.)

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