WNBA players in Ukraine left country before Russian invasion
Several WNBA players who play overseas during the off-season made it safely out of Ukraine after Russia invaded the country this week.
The WNBA on Thursday told USA Today that players “competing this off-season in Ukraine are no longer in the country.”
Washington Mystics guard Ariel Atkins had been playing for the Ukrainian team BC Prometey when Russia launched its invasion. She and her teammates were moved to Bulgaria as the violence broke out, USA Today reported.
The news outlet also confirmed with the Washington Mystics that Atkins is safe in Bulgaria.
Atkins reportedly lauded the courage and bravery of her teammates for playing a “home game away from home” as Russia invaded their home on Thursday.
“Can’t even put into words how proud I am of my Ukrainian teammates for drying up their tears and giving their best tonight,” Atkins wrote in an Instagram story. “A big part of me is angry of what’s happening in the world. Please be aware of what’s happening in the world and educate yourself on the effects of a potential war and in this case actual war. Because if you think this is only going to effect Ukraine, think again.”
She also shared photos of her and her teammates wrapped in Ukrainian flags ahead of the game, USA Today reported.
“I appreciate all the love and concern,” Atkins reportedly wrote, addressing fans in her Instagram Story. “I am NOT in Ukraine. Please send a prayer up for my teammates, their families and everybody in our organization who is still there and has family there.”
The Russian Women’s Basketball Premier League is another league that several WNBA players take part in during the off-season. According to USA Today, the league confirmed that is has been “in contact with WNBA players who are in Russia, either directly or through their agents.”