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Russian Teammates back Brittney Griner

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
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Brittney Griner had more voices offer support for her in court on Thursday, as the Russian basketball club UMMC Ekaterinburg came to her defense.

Teammate Evgeniya Belyakova and general manager Maxim Ryabkov spoke on the Phoenix Mercury center’s good character, per ESPN’s T.J. Quinn.

“Our task today was to tell the court about her characteristics as an athlete, as a person — tell about how she played a big role in the success of the Ekaterinburg club and Russian women’s basketball as a whole,” said Ryabkov to reporters Thursday. “Today is the first day when we have seen our basketball player since February. Thank God, she feels well, looks good.”

“I can say that Brittney has always been a very good teammate, so my role here is just to be with her, to support her,” stated Belyakova. “We miss her very much. We miss her energy. I was very happy to see her, and I hope this trial will be over soon and with a positive outcome.”

It’s been a rough year for Griner, who was detained back in February at the Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport for possession of cannabis oil in her vape cartridges.

The eight-time All-Star had been playing in Russia for extra income, an echoed sentiment by most WNBA stars in prior years. The WNBA’s salary inequality compared to their NBA peers had led players like Griner to participate in leagues overseas.

Along with Griner, stars such as fellow teammate Diana Taurasi have also been on the Ekaterinburg roster.

Griner’s situation has drawn attention on a national level. She recently plead guilty on July 7 to the drug charges. President Biden recently held a conversation with Grinner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, assuring the return of Griner to the states. Trial for Griner resumed on Friday.

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