/  07.14.2022

Today (July 14), WNBA star Brittney Griner appeared in a Russian courtroom once again. This time, however, she had support. Members from Griner’s Russian team, UMMC Ekaterinburg, testified on her behalf. Griner, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury, also plays overseas during the WNBA’s off-season. According to ESPN, the Olympian has played in Russia for six seasons.

As reported by Reuters, Maxim Ryabkov (the director of UMMC Ekaterinburg) and the team’s captain Yevgenia Belyakova spoke highly of Griner during today’s trial. They discussed how the American athlete’s “outstanding abilities as a player and personal contribution [strengthen] team spirit.” Griner seeing members of her Russian team today is said to be her first time seeing acquaintances since her February arrest.

Last week (July 7), Griner pleaded guilty to traveling with vape cartridges that contained cannabis oil. She faces 10 years in a Russian prison for the offense. “I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law. I was in a rush packing and the cartridges accidentally ended up in my bag,” she said.

After court, Belyakova and Ryabkov spoke with reporters. “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,” Ryabkov said. She continued, “Today is the first day when we have seen our basketball player since February. Thank God, she feels well, looks good.”

Belyakova added, “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. 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.” Griner is due back in court tomorrow.

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