UA, GCU basketball teams among Arizonans in Barcelona during terror attack

Posted at 5:42 PM, Aug 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-17 21:24:23-04

Stuck in the middle of all of the chaos and tragedy in Barcelona are dozens of Arizona residents, including two basketball teams.

The University of Arizona Wildcats and the Grand Canyon University Lopes are both in Barcelona for exhibition games.

The Wildcats are staying in a hotel just a few blocks away from Las Ramblas, where the deadly van attack took place. It's been a tense time for family members of the players back here at home, worried about the safety of their children.


Several players have also been taking to social media, bringing relief to fans and family members back here at home.

Moments after the deadly attack UA Junior Guard Allonzo Trier posted "Yeah, it's time to go," followed by "Praying for the world. We need much help right now."

The team page showed video of the basketball team in action during the games, also of them sightseeing in Barcelona.



Before the team left Arizona, Coach Sean Miller talked about the importance of this trip, saying it was not just about athletics.

"I think the bigger picture is this is also a cultural lesson for the boys as well. It's something they haven't done in the past, the boys will learn about each other but also about Barcelona, what a foreign country looks like and feels like," said Miller.

The cultural lesson turned into a harsh reality of a world fighting terrorism, that hit too close to home.

ABC15 News spoke to the father of Wildcat basketball player Alex Barcello from Chandler.

"The team is obviously all safe. They're all okay. They've chosen to cancel their game tomorrow and will be coming home today," said Edward Barcello, although he was not sure if travel plans had been finalized.

Grand Canyon University player Casey Benson also took to Twitter to post about their safety.

"We are all safe for those who are concerned," he stated.

His Twitter page showed pictures of the teammates exploring Barcelona on Segways. 

GCU spokesman Bob Romantic said GCU players had moved to a different city before the terror attack, and they were all safe, and planning their return home as well.

Scottsdale resident Reenie Aldes was also in Barcelona at the time of this attack, with her husband as they celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary.

Aldes said it was the last leg of their month long vacation in Europe. They were staying in an apartment just a block and half away from the center of this attack.

At the time, the couple was getting ready to walk into the Picasso museum when they were informed they had to stay in place, and the streets leading back to their apartments were shut down.

"I think we're just really grateful we were not in Las Ramblas when it happened," said Aldes.

The area where the attack took place was very familiar to the couple as they spent a lot of time there resting and relaxing at the sidewalk cafes, taking in the sights and sounds of Barcelona.

"It's terrible. My heart goes out to these families. It could have been us, or someone we knew," said Aldes.

Although tragic, Aldes added that they were not going to let what happened dampen their celebration. Her husband was a two-time cancer survivor and they were determined to make the most of all of the time they had together. The world travelers pledged to return to Europe, and hopefully back to Barcelona for their 47th wedding anniversary next year.

"If we stop traveling, stop going to places, it only lets the terrorists win. We're not willing to do that," said Aldes.