US action sought for WNBA star



The Manila Times


LOS ANGELES: Phoenix Mercury and Connecticut Sun players linked arms in 42 seconds of silence before their game Thursday (Friday in Manila) in solidarity with WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was sentenced earlier to nine years in prison in Russia. The number honored Griner’s jersey number 42 and the gesture brought tears to the eyes of players from both teams and from fans at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, where the moment ended with chants of “Bring her home!” Griner was convicted and sentenced in a Russian court earlier Thursday on charges of smuggling cannabis vape cartridges into the country. The United States government has declared that Griner was wrongfully detained in Russia, and Sun player Brionna Jones said players from both teams wanted to show their support. “We all have relationships with her, on the court, off the court,” Jones said. “So it was huge. It was an emotional moment for all of us out here. I think it was great that we came together and did that to show our unity — that everybody on this court, everybody in the league, is behind BG.” Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard said before the game that watching their star center speak from a barred courtroom cell was devastating to the team — even though it was no surprise. “We knew this was coming, we’ve been prepared for it,” Nygaard said, noting the low acquittal rates in Russian courts. “We weren’t hanging our hopes on the Russian justice system. I was really amazed by her courage and her strength as I was listening to it today.” The verdict and sentence was widely condemned in the United States as “unjustified” and sparked urgent calls for the US government to bring Griner home.