Team USA’s 87-72 opening recreation victory over Belgium on the Girls’s Basketball World Cup was overshadowed by the absence of ahead Brittney Griner, who has been sentenced to 9 years in Russian jail for possessing hashish oil.
The USA’s gamers honored their buddy and teammate by electing to not put on her No. 15 shirt. Historically, Workforce USA wears the numbers 4 to fifteen however as a substitute is remembering a participant who has been such a giant a part of the nationwide aspect since her first involvement in 2013.
“She’s on our minds each day, and we’ll honor her,” US head coach Cheryl Reeve informed ESPN. “Nobody will put on 15. So simply discovering methods to proceed to verify she is aware of that she’s being considered and our gamers are pondering of her each day.”
Griner has been central to the US staff’s dominance within the sport. The 2013 WNBA No. 1 draft decide has helped the US win two Olympic gold medals and two gold medals on the World Cup.
“She’s a giant a part of our sisterhood,” Griner’s Olympic teammate Jewell Lloyd stated. “Attending to know her over the previous couple years has been nice. She has been nothing however wonderful to me and my household. And it’s simply heart-breaking to know that she’s nonetheless over there and she or he’s not right here.”
The event begin comes per week after Griner’s spouse, Cherelle Griner, met with US President Joe Biden to plead her spouse’s case because the US negotiates the discharge of the WNBA star and former US Marine Paul Whelan.
Griner was detained in February for carrying vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her baggage and pleaded responsible to drug expenses, saying she unintentionally packed the medicine in a rush. Her authorized staff in Russia has appealed the nine-year sentence.
Griner’s teammates and different WNBA gamers have additionally proven solidarity with the eight-time All-Star by boycotting taking part in in Russia through the offseason.
Many WNBA gamers complement their salaries within the offseason by signing with European groups, together with Russian groups that reportedly pay upwards of $1 million per season – way more cash than the gamers would make by staying within the US.
However this winter, gamers are refusing to signal with Russian groups, as a substitute opting to play for different golf equipment throughout Europe.
Breanna Stewart, who has performed with Griner each for the nationwide staff and on the identical Russian membership staff, Yekaterinburg, admitted that it was not a simple choice.
“Truthfully, my time in Russia has been fantastic, however particularly with BG nonetheless wrongfully detained there, no one’s going to go there till she’s residence,” the Seattle Storm energy ahead stated. “I believe we’re going to proceed to talk out, to proceed to amplify her title, put strain as a lot as we will on the White Home.
“It was wonderful that Cherelle was capable of meet with President Biden, and hopefully, that signifies that issues are persevering with to maneuver ahead with getting her residence.
“However I believe one of the simplest ways to signify her and honor her goes and profitable the gold medal.”