US basketball star Brittney Griner remains detained in Russia ©Getty Images

Phoenix Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard has said her team is concerned for Brittney Griner with the basketball star remaining detained in Russia on drugs charges.

Griner, a member of the US team that won Olympic gold medals at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, was arrested at an airport in Moscow in February.

Russian customs officials said they found she was in possession of vape cartridges containing hashish oil.

The drugs charge reportedly carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Griner’s detention was extended for a further two months in March.

Griner is a seven-time all-star centre for the Phoenix Mercury of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA).

The WNBA pre-season is set to begin on April 23, with Phoenix Mercury playing their first match on April 28 against Seattle Storm in the Footprint Center.

The season will officially begin on May 6, with Phoenix Mercury set to host the Las Vegas Aces.

Nygaard said the team remains concerned over Griner’s safety, with the head coach expressing confidence that all is being done to bring her back to the United States.

"It is tough, we are all concerned about her," Nygaard said at a press conference.

"That’s not just her team-mate, someone they know, but also their friend.

"It is something we think about.

"We pray that she is safe and that she can come home quickly.

"We feel confident that everything is being done, that she can get back as quickly as possible.

"Everyone is working hard behind the scenes to make that happen.

"Her safe return is what we are focused on."

The team has supported the "BG Heart and Sole Shoe Drive" in partnership with Phoenix Rescue Mission.

Phoenix Mercury said philanthropic initiatives honouring Griner and modelled after her work will take place in all 12 WNBA markets, thanks to the commitment of every team in the league.

BG’s Heart and Sole Shoe Drive was founded in 2016 by Griner, which saw her donate to unhoused people in the Arizona summer without shoes.

"The most important thing is that our friend and teammate is healthy and safe," said Vince Kozar, Phoenix Mercury President.

"We remain hopeful in the efforts underway to bring her home, and we are grateful for the outpouring of concern we have received.

"As we await her return, WNBA teams are collectively committing to serve the community in ways that BG would if she were here.

"In Phoenix, we are launching the fifth season of BG’s Heart and Sole Shoe Drive, an initiative she founded in 2016 and cares about very deeply.

"BG has always led with her heart and in her absence it’s our duty to do good in her name, we invite you to help in any way you can."

Griner’s arrest came as tensions are increasing between the US and Russia, following the latter’s invasion of Ukraine.

Hillary Clinton, a former US Secretary of State, is among those to call for her release.

A petition demanding Griner's return home has received more than 75,000 signatures.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed an embassy team had been assigned by Joe Biden’s administration to work on Griner’s case.

Griner has played in Russia during the WNBA off-season for several years, where she earns a salary of more than a $1 million (£765,000/€925,000), nearly five times what she can earn in the US.

She has represented UMMC Ekaterinburg since 2014 with team-mates Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart.

UMMC Ekaterinburg are Russia’s dominant team, having won the national championship for 13 consecutive years since 2009.