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By ANDY WOLF
Martyce Kimbrough first wanted to wait things out.
It only took a few days to see how bad things were getting.
The University of Findlay grad was in the middle of his second professional basketball season overseas in Spain. This season he is the starting shooting guard for CB Marbella, which plays in the LEB Plata — the third basketball division in Spain’s system.
Kimbrough’s league was suspended for two weeks March 12 due to coronavirus concerns.
He saw the nationwide trickle-down effect firsthand, as his league went from no fans to no games.
“It was only a matter of time,” Kimbrough said.
He did find a flight out of Spain and arrived back in the United States on Sunday.
The process was anything but easy.
“These last five days have been interesting,” Kimbrough said in a phone interview. “They’ve been real hectic, to say the least.”
Local businesses were already starting to shut down where Kimbrough lived, with only pharmacies and supermarkets left open.
On Saturday night, the same day Kimbrough flew out, Spain issued a 15-day lockdown as part of its state of emergency. The European Union on Monday closed its borders to non-essential travel for 30 days.
Simply buying a plane ticket took multiple attempts.
“We were trying to buy a ticket and when you clicked it, the price either went up to like $1,500 to $3,000, from just like $600,” Kimbrough said.
“The total flight time would be (as much as) 40 hours if you wanted to get a decently priced ticket.”
Kimbrough didn’t know whether it was a glitch in the website or not.
Eventually, he settled on his ticket to Atlanta that was only a little more than what he’d normally pay. His flight, all told, took 26 hours.
Kimbrough said a normal flight straight to Spain, without layovers, was about 10 hours.
But he endured a 13-hour layover in Paris, waiting in the airport the entire time.
“The airport was fairly empty; one, because it was so late and two, because at that time only Americans and Canadians were boarding flights back to America,” he said. “Everybody in there was wearing a mask to cover up their face.”
Upon landing in Atlanta, Kimbrough said the local police explained the process of filling out personal and medical forms, and the necessary testing in case passengers experienced coronavirus symptoms — which he had none of.
For now, all Kimbrough can do is work to keep his body in playing shape.
He’s currently leading Marbella in scoring at 14.6 points per game and has kept up his 3-point shooting prowess.
Kimbrough helped Marbella (14-11) win its last 10 games prior to the season’s postponement.
“It was going really well,” he said. “What makes it a little disappointing was I worked so hard in the offseason.”
Kimbrough wasn’t the area’s only overseas basketball player affected by coronavirus concerns.
Columbus Grove grad Will Vorhees was playing his rookie season for Eisbaren Bremerhaven in Germany’s ProA League, the second-tier league part of the Basketball Bundesliga. He learned via his coaches the league will likely be canceled.
Vorhees said he will be returning home today as his club took care of his flight.
“This is obviously unprecedented and a very unique way for my rookie year to end,” he said in a response via a Twitter direct message. “It’s just made me realize how big of a role sports play in our lives.”
The 6-foot-8, 240-pound Vorhees enjoyed a historic Division II career at Notre Dame College in Ohio, finishing as the 16th-highest scoring player in D-II history (2,761 points).
Like Kimbrough, Vorhees was really making strides in adjusting to the international game.
He ranked third on the team in scoring (12.7 ppg) and first in rebounding (6.2 per game).
“I was humbled early on as I struggled and was kind of concerned with how my first year was going to go,” he said. “But our team was winning, so I had to suck it up and keep trying to (do) whatever I needed to help my team keep winning.”
Liberty-Benton grad and former Ohio State standout point guard Aaron Craft on Tuesday released a video on Twitter explaining his situation. Craft is living in Trento, Italy, and playing for Aquila Basket Trento in the Serie A2 — the second-tier league in the Italian LNP Cup.
The Italian government issued a nationwide lockdown, effectively closing all nonessential businesses and buildings.
“We’re doing well,” Craft said in the video. “Not that we haven’t had our moments of panic, but we plan on staying here and riding this thing out, obeying the laws and restrictions that are in place.
“We’re able to go outside and walk and have a good time there. We’re really looking to the family time that we can have over the next 14 days and we’re also very happy about the precautions that are in place.”
UF grads Josh Bostic and Lee Roberts are also playing internationally. Both were senior starters on Findlay’s 36-0 national championship team in the 2008-09 season.
Bostic is playing for Arka Gdynia in the Polish Basketball League. Roberts is playing for Atlético Aguada in the Uruguayan Basketball League.
Ohio Northern University grad Ryan Bruns, the older brother of UF basketball player Nathan Bruns, is playing his rookie season for Aquimisa Carbajosa in a fourth-tier league of the Spanish Basketball League.
C.J. Gettys, a 2012 Findlay High grad, is playing for the Newcastle Eagles in the British Basketball League.
Each of those leagues also announced that they were postponing games.