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Maryland men’s basketball forward Pavlo Dziuba, former Terps star Alex Len express support for home country of Ukraine amid Russian invasion

Less than 24 hours after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Maryland men’s basketball sophomore Pavlo Dziuba expressed his solidarity for his home country during Thursday night’s game at Indiana.

Dziuba, a transfer from Arizona State who is from Kyiv, Ukraine, wrote “PRAY FOR UKRAINE” and “NO WAR PEACE” with a heart on his sneakers.

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Dziuba came to Maryland after logging just 33 minutes in eight games last season, averaging 0.4 points and 0.3 rebounds for the Sun Devils last season. He has played 32 minutes for the Terps this season.

“Pavlo is our brother,” interim coach Danny Manning said after a 74-64 loss to the Hoosiers. “We love him and we care for him. We’re gonna support him. His family is in a tough situation like so many other people over in the Ukraine. All we can do is send our love, prayers and thoughts to his family and all the other people that are over there.”

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Dziuba wasn’t the only Terp to show his support. Sacramento Kings center Alex Len, a former Maryland star and a native of Antratsit, Ukraine, condemned Russia’s invasion of his native country in a joint statement with Toronto Raptors forward Svi Mykhailiuk released Thursday.

“A great tragedy befell our dear homeland Ukraine. We categorically condemn the war,” wrote Len and Mykhailiuk, the lone Ukrainian players in the NBA. “Ukraine is a peaceful, sovereign state inhabited by people who want to decide their own destiny. We pray for our families, friends, relatives and all the people who are in the territory of Ukraine.

“We hope for an end to this terrible war as soon as possible. Dear fellow Ukrainians, hold on! Our strength is in unity. We are with you!”

Len played basketball in his native country with Dnipropetrovsk Higher College, a handful of FIBA tournaments and BC Dnipro of the Ukrainian Basketball SuperLeague. After playing for two seasons Maryland, he was selected No. 5 by the Phoenix Suns in the 2013 NBA draft.

Russia unleashed airstrikes on cities and military bases and sent in troops and tanks from three sides on Thursday in an attack that could rewrite the post-Cold War security order. Ukraine’s government pleaded for help as civilians piled into trains and cars to flee.

President Vladimir Putin ignored global condemnation and cascading new sanctions as he unleashed the largest ground war in Europe since World War II and chillingly referred to his country’s nuclear arsenal. He threatened any country trying to interfere with “consequences you have never seen.”

Ukrainian officials said their forces were battling Russians on a multiple fronts, but had suffered dozens of deaths and also had lost control of the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant, scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

“Russia has embarked on a path of evil, but Ukraine is defending itself and won’t give up its freedom,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted.

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U.S. President Joe Biden announced new sanctions against Russia, saying Putin “chose this war” and that his country would bear the consequences of his action. Other nations also announced sanctions, or said they would shortly.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.


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