“God save the Queen,” some sang, perhaps for the last time.
It was a very unusual set of circumstances to play a basketball match, a group of 12 representing their country, less than two hours after the death of Queen Elizabeth II – Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, someone who turned 70 years old. took the throne – was announced .
The outcome did not matter much: the team lost 90-56 to Italy.
“I mean, she’s the only leader of our nation we’ve known,” said Britain’s attacker Dan Clark. “The amount of respect she has and the way she has carried herself as a leader for so many years and in such a long reign is remarkable.”
Many other sporting events in Britain were canceled after the Queen’s death was announced, including some golf, cricket, horse racing, rugby and cycling.
In Milan, the Queen’s life was commemorated before the match, a hastily collected tribute by the organizers of EuroBasket. After the anthems were played and a short warm-up had taken place, the starters from both teams gathered in midfield just before the tip for a moment of silence.
Fans politely applauded as a short tribute to the Queen was read, after which the arena went completely silent for about 30 seconds. Some in the crowd held the British flag in the air. The players of Great Britain stood together in a semicircle, hands folded behind their backs.
“It’s just hard,” said British coach Nathan Reinking, who was born in Ohio and holds two-time British-American citizenship. “That’s what you play for. You play for the country. And she’s been at the forefront for so many years … it was a different, challenging situation to go through.”
Great Britain (0-5) had already been eliminated in the knockout round of the tournament, which serves as the European Championship. There were 24 teams that made it to the group stage; only 16 are going to Berlin this weekend to start the next round.
That means it’s unclear when the next instance of the team standing for the anthem before a match will take place. But when that happens, now in honor of King Charles III, the anthem will work towards a new ending.
It will now be “God save the King”.
“It was a strange, difficult moment,” Reinking said. “You just get through it.”
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