There were a number of Americans that were playing basketball and living in the Ukraine as war broke out. Most of them fled before war broke out while there were a few that were still there when war broke out. But what about those Americans that were dueling on the floor and living in countries that were neighboring the Ukraine? There were numbers of Americans that were playing in Russia that left while a guy like Will Clyburn remained with CSKA Moscow. Playing in Russia must have been a tricky experience for guys seeing how the war affected that country. But there were also other players like Angelo Warner (188-PG-1992, college: Morehead St.) that was playing in Belarus, a country that heavily supports Russia. Warner is a guy that has seen a lot overseas as Belarus was the sixth country that he had seen in his seventh professional season. He played for VTB team Tsmoki-Minsk and played his last game on Feb 17 against Zenit losing 90-74 while scoring 15 points, hauling down 7 rebounds and dishing out 4 assists. It was a week before war broke out in the Ukraine. The tension with war approaching got greater and greater and it was only a matter of time before he knew that he had to get out of there. ‘When Minsk decided to send troops to invade as well, I think that was the line for me. I wanted to stay and wait it out but after hearing about the travels and flights being canceled everywhere, that’s when I begin to worry. My agent is probably the most understanding guy so that wasn’t a hard decision. The coach and staff were also understanding, they had their own problems facing the war also. It was more of a mutual agreement with no bad blood left on the table. No miscommunication’, stressed Angelo Warner.
Angelo Warner who is a 30 year old 188cm point guard that lists Mike James as his toughest cover on the court in his career had no problem keeping pace with everything leading up to war in Belarus. 30 years ago, he would of most likely only had newspapers, magazines and radio to help give added information with what you got on TV, but in 2022 social media is the way to go and really has replaced all the other means of communication. ‘Social media was everywhere. And was the biggest platform. Phones today can pick up anything. Every post, every site, something somewhere was about this invasion War. Every restaurant with a TV was playing the same thing so it was hard to not see what was going on in the world. We weren’t getting much information while being there so the news was our best source to knowing what was really going on’, remembered Angelo Warner. One can only imagine how incredibly hard it must have been for guys seeing war break out in the Ukraine that were there, but it must also been tough for guys in other countries seeing the footage and knowing that they weren’t so far away and that in times like this anything can happen. But sometimes it is the loved ones that are thousands of miles away that take the whole precarious situation more to heart. ‘Mentally I was stable. I think my biggest concerns were my family and friends you know. My daughter especially! She’s crazy about me. It was the fact of not knowing what was going to happen the next day or the next week or something like that. It got to a point to where you couldn’t think about basketball. Games were canceled so what was the purpose’, stated Angelo Warner.
The Orlando, Florida native who battled against Euroleague player Corey Walden for three years in the NCAA wasn’t the sole American player on the team. He was fortunate to have teammates like Jason Clark and Dequon Lake on his side to help him get through the tough situation. Especially ex Georgetown (NCAA) guard Jason Clark is a guy that became like a brother to him. ‘Me and Jason became very close since the time he arrived in Minsk and every day, every hour we talked because there was something new to talk about with the war. We both have daughters and that was the maiming drawing point for us’, expressed Angelo Warner. So when it came time to go, the Americans were just able to go. It wasn’t always the same for other Americans who played in the Ukraine. There were some guys that couldn’t go right away and other guys that weren’t allowed to get out of their contract. The great thing about VTB team Tsmoki Minsk was that they were 100% behind the player. ‘We talked with the coach and he was upset not only for the war but for the club in the future. It affects the club, the budget, the import possibility. As usual we came to an agreement and we shook hands like gentlemen’, commented Angelo Warner. The American was having a very solid season and showing that he can hold his own with any guard in the VTB so just packing up and finding a new challenge in Poland with Trefl Sopot wasn’t easy to do, but one he had to do. ‘ I could’ve ended the year and finished but I wanted to keep playing. I was in good shape, my physicality was top notch so why not’, said Angelo Warner. In some places war just outlasts everything. ‘ I’m a people’s person. I share love and positivity. What’s happening over there is insane to me! I can’t imagine that happening to my family unexpectedly like it did for them you know. My season was going well, my rhythm got better and better but unfortunately it became bigger than basketball’, warned Angelo Warner.
The ex Morehead State (NCAA) guard is in Poland now and life goes on as it does for everyone, but his attention is still focused on what is happening in the Ukraine. You can see some gruesome things on TV about all the brutality going on war time in the Ukraine. How can one not shed tears when you see innocent children dying? I personally change the channel when it gets too graphic. It hasn’t been easy for Warner when he sees what’s going on. ‘I think when the children’s hospital was bombed was crazy to me. When I saw a tank crush a moving car with an old person inside of it or when I saw the missiles flying over the city as people were walking by! I also saw how the Russian soldiers were looting the Ukrainen store and stealing the food. Breaking into the banks and stealing safes! That’s how people live and afford a living for their family, I don’t have much good things to say about that because of it was my family, yeah next question’, stated Angelo Warner. The war in the Ukraine is affecting everybody worldwide in some way and he is also following closely how the United States act in these hard times overseas. ‘My opinion is for the US getting more and more involved; It’s putting a lot of pressure on Americans with pay, gas prices have sky rocketed because of Putin and his actions, The price of food and cost, everything has increased but what can you do. People have to work, eat, survive best way we can but for how long. I have a bank account in Belarus, I found out it has been frozen because of this. So I don’t know how long my people can hold on but we will find a way’, added Angelo Warner. Even if he has a new job and is focused 100% on helping his new team, he will never forget his Belarusian teammates. He knows for some of them the most terrible thing happened. Something he would never have imagined could happen, but does when war happens. ‘Some in the Tmoki-Minsk organization also had to join the war. It was sad you know because they look like they never held a gun you know. The people in Belarus didn’t want this war at all but like most in today’s world, their voice isn’t more powerful than the top’, stressed Angelo Warner. The American still isn’t far away from the Ukraine as his daily life continues to revolve around basketball, but deep in his thoughts will always be those that are affected by the war. ‘The world is standing for Ukraine and it’s only a matter of time until someone will come to help you. I think Ukraine is doing a good job for fighting for their lives and country. America/The world is behind you! Stay Safe’, stressed Angelo Warner.