We're having some ball over here
I’m ball boy for the next couple of days and that’ll be cool.
Did base while you were sleeping, am at soft now, be back at soft on Thursday morning here and then – finally -- some basket on Thursday night.
|Terry Puhl, manager of Canada's Boys of (a very stinky, hot, humid) Summer.|
But first, a few words about our Boys of (a very stinky, hot, humid) Summer and, specifically, manager Terry Puhl.
You’ve probably heard a mealy-mouthed quote or two from athletes over here talking about how it’s an honour to compete and they’ve done their best and learned a lot and love the atmosphere and they’ll go get ‘em next time.
Of course, that’s usually after they finish fifth or eighth or thirtieth or something.
Well, Puhl isn’t like that.
He’s here to win and win however he has to. He had Scott Thorman stealing second up five over China on Wednesday and is not going to worry about ruffling any feathers.
"We’re coming here with one thing in mind, to expose any team that we play. We have a lot of honour in this game but we’re here to win ball games.”
Gotta love the dude.
And then he said later that he was only going to play guys who are contributing and if someone’s nailed to the bench for the entire tournament, so be it.
"We’re here to win nine games.”
A refreshing attitude, if you ask me.
I’ve only caught a little bit of basketball the past couple of days – I’ll get to spend some time there on Friday over here watching USA-Greece in what could be a doozy – but have spoken to a few NBA and FIBA types who’ve seen it all.
Early quick impressions:
Croatia’s good and Roko plays a pretty big role. He didn’t get much time in their game on Tuesday against Russia because Zoran Planicic was playing so well. They go to Ukic for a steady hand and I’m told he’s having a pretty good tournament through a couple of games.
Spain? Well, there are a lot of questions about coach Aito Garcia, who’s jerking around the starting lineup. He didn’t start Pau Gasol in the first game but started him in the second; he didn’t start Jose in the second game (for Juan Carlos Navarro) after starting him in the first. Neither of moves makes much sense so the thought is Spain’s 2-0 in spite of the coach, not because of him.
(An aside to everyone who’s asked: Jose’s fingers are fine; he’s got ‘em taped so he doesn’t hurt them again but told me on Sunday he’s 100 per cent).
The Amercans? For some reason they can’t shoot to save their souls, which is going to be the thing that jumps up and bites them in the butt sometime soon.
But I will tell you this: Kobe’s all over this tournament. When I was over there on Sunday to see Spain and Greece, a spy who was down near the court said the only American player who came by the arena to scout was Kobe, who stayed for about a half before heading out.
The dude wants to win above all else.
I’ll get you hoop heads some more tomorrow when I actually catch a break from soccer, archery, softball, baseball, water polo, field hockey and whatever else I do to fill my days and get a chance to see some basketball. Looking very much forward to that.
They’re papering the houses here, finding volunteers with nothing to do – or finding people on the streets and telling them what to do – and outfitting them with tickets and orange shirts, sending them into the stands to cheer wildly.
Doesn’t matter which sport, doesn’t matter which country.
If there are wide expanses of empty seats – and there have been everywhere I’ve been except at the China-Canada soccer game in Tianjin – they’re filling them.
But how’d you like to be a local who actually paid money to see, say, women’s soccer between Canada and Sweden and you look over and your next door neighbour’s in an orange shirt enjoying a free night out.
Oh, and I guess that whole thing about how every ticket was sold was, um, not quite true.
What I want to know is where they have these large groups of idle volunteers ready to go watch a game at the drop of hat. They must be storing them somewhere we can’t see them.
Okay, maybe the bloom is off the rose.
Was at the ballpark this morning (or deep in night back home) and two of the chickens came to roost. I mean, root.
But the red one wasn’t there. It was Blue and Green.
Maybe the red thing’s dumped me for something. I’m crushed.
I don’t know what they were thinking with this.
It sort of appalls me because that’s not the Jose or Garbo I know. I’m sure it bothers a lot of right-thinking people and I’m sure someone in the Raptor brass will have word with Jose sometime.
It’s caused a bit of stir over here but the Spanish team hasn’t been around to do much explaining. They will be Thursday and I’m sure there’ll be more to report.
For now, here’s what Jose’s saying on his website.
How 1970s of them. The fans at the Canada-Sweden soccer game the other night tried to get the wave started at the Worker’s Stadium.
Didn’t work, thankfully, because about the only thing worse than the wave are thunderstix and you all know how I feel about them.
I got a sneaking suspicion it was the seat-fillers who were told to start it. If so, they gotta get better seat fillers.
Hey, the tank was gone when we arrived at the main press centre this morning. A couple of gun-toting soldiers were still there, though. -
You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen a gaggle of grunts sitting around trying to figure out the various soccer permutations while Canada was playing Sweden in the final preliminary round game the other night.
Was the first tie-breaker goal differential? What if Canada lost and the USA lost and Korea lost? Who would Canada play and where? What if China won and Canada won? It was like we needed an abacus and a smart person or two.
Of course, The First Lady and I were the winners on figuring out what was going to happen. We got that they were going to Shanghai to play the Americans and won the race.
Okay, off to watch the women softballers face Netherlands. Turn it on when you're having breakfast, I think you'll like this team.