Good morning, or good evening (depending if you're there or here)
Pretty slow day around here. Everyone’s gearing up for Friday – and for some reason the Canadian Olympic Committee has scheduled about a billion news conferences for Thursday instead of stretching them out – so we’re a little lacking in actual, you know, sports stuff.
So we’ll wend our way through the media village, the press centre and a few sights and sounds to get us through until tomorrow, when things actually happen, like my women’s football team kicking off these infernal Games.
How slow was it?
Well, Perk and I are sitting in the press centre trying to figure out what to write and our attention is drawn to the TV set right by us. It’s showing – get this – classic table tennis.
How do we know it’s classic? We figured it out ‘cause the athletes were wearing old NBA-style short-shorts. That and the Atlanta ’96 banners gave it away.
Anyway, we get to watching the men’s doubles final China against China – and, as we’re wont to do, there’s perhaps some handicapping going on. I got the dudes in the purple and Perk’s got the pair in the white and let’s just say I think I owe him a Tsing Tao.
The things we do to pass the time.
Things you won’t see at home:
A guard, solitary, at rigid attention, guarding what looked to be no more than a footpath going nowhere at the media village. And a guy standing guarding a fire truck. Of course, I was once party to a group of grunts at the
village that tried to free some kangaroos from their enclosure – a little move that was aborted when we found out the fence was electrified – so maybe someone might want to boost a fire truck now that I think of it.
Everyone seems to be in the mood to predict Canadian medals at these things. I see Sports Illustrated had us for 14, the COC won’t say but wants a top 16-finish which would have been 17 medals four years ago in Athens and the talk around my water cooler had it at about 14, maybe less.
My guess (and that’s just what it is)? Let’s say 13. And one of my teams will bring one home.
Let’s toss in a basketball mailbag question, okay?
Q: Hey Doug, as someone who isn't too familiar with international basketball, would you be able to educate me on the main differences between the NBA and the Euroleague as far as recruiting new talent goes? Specifically, I'm wondering if there's an Euro-equivalent to NCAA college basketball? i.e. where's the pool of talent from which they recruit/draft new players?
Thanks for keeping this blog rolling along through the summer months, and I hope you have a safe and fun trip.
Terence G, Mississauga
A: European teams operate, generally, as “clubs.” That is, they start grooming kids as young as “mini-basket” age, like six or seven and then run them up through minors and cadets and juniors and the like. That’s one of the main ways the clubs develop their talent – and they can “sell” or loan a player to another team.
And, as we’ve seen the past few weeks, teams aren’t above simply going out anywhere in the world and signing who they like.
There was scant little basketball news here yesterday (or I guess it’s actually today since I’m going to post this around 7 p.m. my time).
Am told Spain may practice here tomorrow but there's also a chance they'll take a day off so not sure when we'll really get down to basketball nitty-gritty.
Scanning the reports from the basketball venue and it was a very, very quiet day.
I probably need a day or two to handicap this field (the men’s tournament doesn’t start until Sunday my time, or Saturday night back home) but there’s an early feeling coursing through me that says Spain’s gotta get some serious consideration.
The Americans are getting into town Wednesday, I believe, and will have their big news conference here on Thursday afternoon my time, Thursday morning back at my home.
Hope we get a question like the one posed to, I believe it was, Karl Malone back in Barcelona
Questioner (not verbatim): “Mr. Malone, why is in your sport that some times a basket is one point, sometimes it is two and sometimes it is three?”
Malone (a tad perplexed): “That’s just the way it is, my man.”
Now I don’t eat a lot of Peking Duck (I guess it’s just called ‘duck’ here; after all, as Perk points out, they wouldn’t call it Chinese food, they’d just call it food, right?), and I certainly don’t have it often for lunch and I’ve never had it in a cafeteria setting but if they keep selling us food like that in the press centre as they did Tuesday, this is going to be culinary delight.
Duck, noodles, a nifty beef and onions dish was a pretty good lunch.
But a glance over to the McDonald’s kiosk sees a lineup of about 50 people clamoring for a Big Mac.
Some folks just don’t get it.
Hope you all get to read this. Because I can’t.
Seems the local organizers, perhaps fearing I’d have something important to say, have blocked internet access for us to our own blogs. There’s a way to beat their system, but my machine blows up every time I try to use it, so I file and hope you all enjoy it.
A little censorship. Odd, though it is.
I have no clue who Canadian archer Jay Lyon is but the dude’s all right.
On the flash quote computer system here – organizers send volunteers out to get snippets of news and then post ‘em on the in-house machines so we can all get at ‘em (and you thought every note was originally reported? Silly you).
Anyway, Lyonis asked about his fitness and, if the system is to believed, he says:
"I’m not much of an athlete. I eat a lot of McDonald’s. I’m probably overweight for an athlete.”
How can you not like the guy?
Village living? Not bad. I got the big room in the three-bedroom condo, the one with the en suite bath much to the chagrin of Starkers and Perk. And I click on the TV before calling it a night last night, flip around the dial and what do you find? The Sopranos. A language-sanitized HBO version but, still.
Anyway, it’s almost night here and Team Star is soon to venture out en mass to a local neighbourhood for dinner. This might be wildly entertaining.
Be back tomorrow with a full report and, I hope, some sports to talk about.