BANGOR – After playing overseas for eight years, Troy Barnies is used to a fly-by-night schedule but coronavirus has made this season especially unique.
“Right now, as bad as it sounds, I’m only riding on Plan A”
UMaine men’s basketball alum, and 2007 Mr Maine Basketball at Edward Little, Troy Barnies has been playing internationally since he graduated from UMaine in 2011. This season he is playing in Russia, where the nation’s Superleague continues to play as global concerns mount over the spread of coronavirus. “We had two away games in Moscow, but it wasn’t really a thing yet, and right when I got back in to my city Izhevsk, which I live in right now, where my team is located, then things started to get blown up in Europe,” said Barnies.
Since those games in Moscow, the Russian Basketball Federation has suspended all competition starting March 22, meaning Barnies’ team, Kupol-rodniki Izhevsk, will play Wednesday for the final time until at least April 10. “They’re still deciding if they’re going to cancel the season or not but tomorrow…the team will automatically be in playoffs if we win or something like that, I’m a little behind with everything, I don’t really ask questions I just play,” said Barnies.
Regardless of the future of the league, this will likely be Barnies final appearance in Russia, as the league has banned international players through the end of the season, effectively exhausting his work visa and contract. “We’re making the decision that I’m going to be going home after this game and I’m going to receiver all my contract up to a certain date…and then I get my money, pack my stuff get on a plane and go home.”
As the only international player on his team, Barnies says he essentially needs a flight within 24 to 48 hours of the team’s final game Wednesday before the hiatus begins, otherwise he may be stuck in Russia with an expiring visa. “I’ll be stuck here end of March, April, and all of May until my visa runs out and I don’t even know if it will be better by then so I need to make this happen.”
Barnies awaits Wednesday’s game, while his wife is on front lines of the COVID-19 fight, as a healthcare worker behind a closed border in her home country of Norway. “She works with a lot of elderly people, like a lot, and she sees the side of it where it affects people way more than people are walking around acting like it’s no big deal, like this is actually a big deal,” said Barnies.