Basque basket team received with war sirens in Turkey. The players: "It was terrifying"
More than 84 years after the bombing of Gernika at the hands of the Nazi Condor Legion that left hundreds dead and a town destroyed in its wake, the players of the Basque town's basketball team had to hear anti-aircraft sirens in Turkey.
More than 84 years after the bombing of Gernika at the hands of the Nazi Condor Legion that left hundreds dead and a town destroyed in its wake, the players of the Basque town's basketball team had to hear anti-aircraft sirens in the Turkish basket centre on Tuesday in which they played the Eurocup, the second women's European competition. In addition to the whistles and boos, regularly chanted when the visiting team attacks, at various times during the game, and as recorded in the videos of the match itself, war sirens can be heard several times at Çukurova Basketbol Centre, transmitted from the stadium sound system.
The match corresponded to the second leg of the eliminatory round of the Eurocup, in which the Basque team had 24 points of advantage. Rosó Buch, a player of the team, related through Twitter the problems they had to face before playing the match. As a result of the appearance of several COVID-19 positives among the players of Lointek Gernika, the FIBA, organizer of the competition, and the teams agreed to delay the second leg until 4 January. "We did the respective quarantine and started training when we all tested negative for antigens. We did the test again before traveling: same results. The rival insisted to the FIBA that we had to do PCR on arrival; we accepted. We agreed to do it in Bilbao or even in Istanbul. They refused and said that they would only allow us to play if we are tested in Adana," the region from which Çukurova Basketbol comes.
Rosó Buch added: "At the club we decided to do a PCR at the Istanbul airport to make sure, since we doubted the intentions. All negative. All good. We arrived in Adana and they were waiting for us. [...] Today [Tuesday] at lunchtime, match day, they told us that Belén [Arrojo, Gernika player] had tested positive. Surprise! We react quickly and she goes to the hospital to do another PCR. She can't play without the result. But she doesn't arrive until we are having dinner. She tested negative. Surprise! They have taken Belen from us."
Kevin Huber, the team's physical trainer, also referred to the match on social media. He called it a "joke." He wrote: "You cannot play like this with the health of an entire team, the mental exhaustion that all this injustice has caused. All this was very unfortunate. And everything happened under the protection of FIBA." He also complained about the obstacles that they had to overcome to leave the country once the match had been played.
As the players related, Huber confirmed that after "doing a PCR in Istanbul and testing negative, we had something surreal to experience. When we arrived in Adana, there was a van waiting for us. On board, two executives from the rival club, accompanied by a 'nurse', who wanted to do the PCR on us in the middle of the street before getting on the bus. [...] The 'nurse' took out the PCR with the names of our players already written on them... Suspicious? They carried out the PCR on us, and their managers were waiting there without even wearing masks. Weren't they so worried about not being infected by Covid and wasn’t’ that why they did PCR on us?"
During the match, as proven in the videos, during several attack actions by the Gernika team, sounds resembling the anti-warplane alarms began to emanate from the speakers of the pavilion and that were mixed, at full volume, even with the national anthem of Turkey. "Everything against us. From the 17-hour trip to the inexplicable Covid positive test of Belén Arrojo at the last minute. The CBK Mersin even changed its pavilion to a smaller one to be able to exert greater pressure in terms of public and noise," said the Basque players. Some seven and a half kilometers separate the usual pavilion of the Turkish team, which can accommodate 7,500 spectators, from the venue where the match was finally played, which can barely accommodate 2,000. The match ended with a result of 69-40, for an aggregate of 123 to 128 favourable to the Turkish team, which continues ahead in the competition and will play the round of 16 against the French Flammes Carolo Basket.