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Ankle healed, Prince to join Russian team

NEW YORK (AP) - Epiphanny Prince is healthy enough to head to the EuroBasket tournament.

Prince will fly Thursday afternoon to France and join the Russian national women's basketball team for the event that runs from June 15-30.

The Chicago Sky guard had sprained her right ankle playing in an exhibition game for the Russian team last week and it was uncertain whether she'd be OK to play in the World Championship qualifier.

After injuring her ankle when she landed on an opponent's foot on June 6, the New York native traveled back to Chicago to have it looked at by Dr. Lowell Scott Weill Sr. He had performed surgery on Prince's same foot when she injured it last June.

The guard only needed to do a week of rehab, which she completed in New York.

``After some rehab and rest I'm feeling much better than I expected and I look forward to the chance to compete at EuroBasket,'' Prince told The Associated Press in an email.

Russian national coach Alfredas Vainauskas, who coaches Prince in the winter on her club team, said at a news conference on Tuesday that ``she was a very important player to this team.''

Russia is looking to be one of the top five teams at the EuroBasket.

Prince, who was averaging 20.7 points for the Sky, has already missed two games for Chicago and is expected to miss four or five more while playing in the tournament.

She has a chance to be the second American-born player to play for Russia's national team in the Olympics. Becky Hammon played in the last two Olympics for Russia and also the 2010 world championship. Prince, who was born in Brooklyn, became a naturalized Russian citizen in 2010, but this will be her first time playing with the national team.

Since Prince hasn't played for the United States in any major FIBA-sanctioned international events, she is allowed to compete for Russia.

Russia is coming off a disappointing Olympics where it finished fourth, losing to Australia in the bronze medal game. The Russians had won bronze medals at the previous two Olympics, but haven't won a gold medal since 1992 when the country was known as the Unified Team. The Russians recently hired Vainauskas to lead the national team for the next four years.


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