Romain Sato has always been known as a lockdown defender.
That phrase took on a much grimmer meaning when the Fenerbahce Ulker swingman spent Thursday night in a Slovenian prison.
It all started when Sato, the 31-year-old shooting guard out of the Central African Republic, was detained at the Slovenian border as his Turkish team was flying in for their Friday Euroleague contest against Union Olimpija.
Slovenian police told Reuters that the biographical page on Sato’s passport was fake, and that those claims were “later confirmed by the suitable technical equipment.”
Sato was taken to jail to spend the night and Fenerbahce Ulker, the Turkish giants from Istanbul’s Asian side, were neither pleased by Slovenia’s legal action nor convinced by their explanation. They responded promptly with heat on their website with a post entitled, in all caps, ‘SKANDAL.’
You don’t need Turkish Rosetta Stone to figure that one out. Here’s an excerpt from Fenerbahce’s statement, translated by trusted Turkish follower Cagri Turhan:
“Diplomatic and legal transactions are started by our club against this illegal action … It should not be forgotten that this outlaw action, is not a problem between the clubs, it’s an international SCANDAL. Every detail regarding the issue is going to be shared with the public.”
The team also pointed out that Sato had traveled to the United States and all over Europe with that very same passport and there’d been nary a peep.
Claiming Sato was sleepless after his evening in the clink, Fenerbahce officials packed him up and sent him on his way — passport and all — to much more welcoming Turkish shores, where he watched his boys avenge his imprisonment with an 81-75 win over Union Olimpija, who couldn’t underdog their way to a second straight win.
And while Sato’s night in Slovenian Shawshank couldn’t have been too cushy, the worse news for Fenerbahce and their Final Four hopes has to be Bo McCalebb’s ankle injury, which forced him to leave the game in the second half on the shoulders of his teammates.
His status for next week’s showdown against Real Madrid is unknown. His status as one of this team’s leaders after just two short Euroleague weeks, however, is undeniable.
Partizan fans probably wish Serbian border control had taken a closer look at Sonny Weems’ passport.
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