The 2022 FIBA World Cup will be the first major competition that the US women’s basketball team will compete without Phoenix Mercury Center Britney Greiner Since the 2012 Summer Olympics. The World Cup, which begins Wednesday in Sydney, will be a poignant sign for the world of women’s basketball as one of the most famous stars of the past decade faces an uncertain future in a Russian prison.
Greiner has been in custody since February, when she was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport with e-cigarette cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. Greiner had been prescribed medical cannabis in the United States to relieve pain from chronic injuries, but it is illegal in Russia. Sentenced to nine years in prison in August, she is now awaiting the possibility of a prisoner exchange between the United States and Russia with fellow American arrested Paul Whelan.
“You really did it [been a stalwart of USA Basketball] And that’s something our players have dealt with throughout the season,” USA coach Cheryl Reeve Minnesota Linux He said. “It’s on our minds every day, and we’ll honor it. Nobody will wear it. So just finding ways to continue to make sure it knows it’s of interest and that our players think about it every day.”
Greiner, ranked #1 in the WNBA in 2013, has been an enthusiastic participant in the USA National Basketball Team events since making the 2014 World Cup squad, which she played in just two weeks after winning the WNBA title with Mercury. In last year’s Tokyo Olympics, Greiner averaged 16.5 points, tied with the United States for the lead Las Vegas Aces straight ahead Aja WilsonAnd 7.2 rebounds.
“She’s a big part of our brothers,” she said. Seattle Storm Protect Joel Lloyd, who was Greiner’s US Fellow in Tokyo. “Getting to know her for the past two years has been amazing. She has been nothing but wonderful to me and my family. It is just sad to know that she is still there and not here.
“So I think that’s an extra motivation for everyone, I think, who steps onto the court and knows her, to play for her. Because she gave it her all every time she was part of any basketball team, definitely NBA.”
Fowles, 37, will retire next month, while Charles, 33, appears to have ended her NBA career. Fowles has won gold medals at four Olympics and one World Cup, while Charles has won three gold medals in each. Greiner, who will turn 32 in October, has earned two gold medals in each event.
“Obviously, the lack of BG here is an irreplaceable void.”
Breanna Stewart talks about how American women will miss Britney Grenier at the World Cup
These three players are all traditional low mass threats. The 6-foot-9 Griner made 6 of 17 3-point attempts in her WNBA career in the regular season, and 6-6 Fowls made one attempt in 2010. The 3-pointer was a much bigger chunk than the 6 -4 Charles match, where she scored 174 in the regular season. Charles is the only one out of the three to have made 3 pointers at either the Olympics or the World Cup; She had three rounds at the Tokyo Olympics.
Without that trio, 2022 WNBA MVP Wilson, 26, and the Seattle striker Brianna Stewart, 28, are the most experienced postal player on the current US roster. Wilson just won the WNBA title 6-5 with the Aces on Sunday, and he will be arriving late in Australia. Stewart led the US 6-4 in rebounding (10.0 RPG) at the Tokyo Olympics, averaging 15.0 points.
The newcomer players on the US team will be 6-5 °C / Fahrenheit Shakira Austinthe 22-year-old, who just finished her junior season with Sophia WashingtonAnd the Connecticut Sun Teammates 6-3 striker Briona JonesAnd 26 and 6-2 forward Alyssa Thomas30, who was this WNBA season’s runner-up.
They are all talented positions, but the United States wouldn’t have the same size or international experience without Fowles and Charles and Greiner. And while Fowles and Charles weren’t expected to be part of this American team, Greiner was. “Obviously the lack of BG here is an irreplaceable void,” Stewart said. “We really hope she gets home as soon as possible, hoping to do as well as possible under the circumstances, but knowing that she has a huge role in NBA with her dominance on a court and he is a kind, affectionate human being off the court.
“It’s tough because you have these moments where it’s like, ‘You should be here, you’ll be here’ and at the same time also, it’s bigger than basketball. Being home safe and healthy and back with her family is a No. 1 priority.”
Aside from no American having worn a Griner jersey number in previous competitions, what would Team USA do to honor her? The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has some restrictions on political statements made during the event, and Americans are aware of this. But Griner’s WNBA peers see this as a humanitarian issue involving their colleague and friend.
Grenner’s wife, Cheryl Greiner, met with President Biden on Friday to discuss what was being done to try to get Greiner free.
“I think we will continue to speak out, to continue to amplify her name, and to put as much pressure on the White House as possible,” Stewart said. “It was amazing that Cheryl was able to meet with President Biden, and hopefully that means things keep moving forward with her way back home.
“But I think the best way to represent and honor her is to win the gold medal.”
ESPN’s Alexa Filippo contributed to this report.