On Tuesday, FIBA announced that Russia will be banned from all international competitions until further notice due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The ban includes, but isn’t limited to the Russian national basketball teams, 3x3 teams, professional teams in EuroLeague Women, EuroCup Women and officials.
Several Russian women’s professional teams like UMMC Ekaterinburg, last season’s EuroLeague Women champions will no longer be able to defend their title this season. Their website has listed that their quarterfinals round will continue without Russian teams.
The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7Days EuroCup, are not operated by FIBA. However, EuroLeague Basketball, their parent organization, decided to suspend their Russian teams last Monday.
It goes without saying that the moves by FIBA and the EuroLeague further isolate Russia at the expense of its people and any foreigner who plays there.
From a Washington Wizards and Mystics standpoint, the decision by FIBA won’t affect them directly from a national team standpoint. No one is Russian.
But we could see a EuroBasket this September without the Russia men’s national basketball team. The Wizards have Deni Avdija (Israel), Kristaps Porzingis (Latvia) and Tomas Satoransky (Czech Republic), all of whom could be in Europe’s now-quadrennial continental tournament.
Of the countries that the Wizards’ European players represent, Latvia and Czechoslovakia, the predecessor state to the Czech Republic, used to be under Russian influence during the Cold War. But both have since joined the European Union and NATO, organizations that Russia doesn’t consider friendly. Furthermore, Latvia is a former Soviet state. Russia has taken issue with NATO’s eastward expansion and has also been uneasy with the EU’s eastward expansion since the Soviet Union’s demise in 1991.
The Russia women’s national basketball team made the FIBA Women’s World Cup last February in the Dominican Republic from Group D of the qualifiers. They couldn’t play in Washington to play Mystics guard Ariel Atkins and Team USA due to visa issues unrelated to the invasion. The Women’s World Cup is in late September and it’s possible that Russia will be formally banned from there as well. This is because the Women’s World Cup draw tomorrow officially left their spot in question. If they are not able to play, Puerto Rico would take their place.
The first FIBA world competition that could affect Russia however is the 3X3 World Cup in Antwerp, Belgium this June.
FIBA will meet again on Mar. 25 to determine next steps regarding Russia.