PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Julian Mavunga went to Ukraine with the hopes of a unique experience and a chance to further his professional basketball career. The Maine Red Claws forward ended up leaving the country after the political unrest turned fatal.
"It makes you feel very uneasy because you see what's going on on tv because everyone was talking about it: CNN, BBC," he said.
The second-year pro out of Miami (OH) was playing with Hoverla in the Ukrainian Basketball Superleague. The city is located in the Southwestern part of the country approximately 400 miles from the capital Kiev, where the Crisis originated. When his team traveled there for a game, Mavunga witnessed the protests and demonstrations before they became violent.
"Later in the Revoulion they called it. Things kind of started getting bad elsewhere," he said.
As result games would end up being postponed for three weeks from the middle of February to the beginning of March. It was at that the 24-year old decided he wasn't comfortable staying any longer.
"I don't know how much worse this can get, but I don't want to be here to find out."
He and his three American teammates negotiated their release from the team. The others settled with other European teams. Mavunga opted for the Red Claws citing the uncertainty about transitioning to another foreign team as well as not knowing how he'd fit into those team's plans.
When the Red Claws season concludes on Saturday, Mavunga will once again be a free agent, who'll consider all his options, including a possible return to Ukraine, only if as he said "the political situation stabilizes."