And, soon, the fun shall commence
So a guy wakes up, throws open the curtains, sees crystal blue skies with a soft breeze and can look out the window and off in the distance see the Aegean?
Yeah, sometimes life doesn’t bite at all.
Anyway since it’s only been a few hours, it seems, since the last missive and there’s really been no basketball news, we’ll be all over the map this morning until I can get to the gym and see some action.
Don’t forget, we’re going to try an in-game blog this morning (be here about 11:15 Eastern time if you like) to see if it works logistically for me and you.
Well, mostly me.
We were sitting at dinner with some Canada Basketball folks – a nice outdoor patio with ice cold Efes Pilsen and a really good grilled meat dish, thank you very much – when we were trying to handicap the group here.
And, you know, it’s impossible, really.
Is France ready to play and in shape? What’s Lithuania really got?
Lebanon can surprise some people and New Zealand can physically beat you into submission.
Canada? An absolute unknown. I don’t think anyone really has any clue how these kids are going to handle this.
So what we came up with was one of the wildest scenarios imaginable and it could very well happen.
Spain’s going to go 5-0, of that there is no real doubt in my mind. They are that far above everyone else here that I can’t see them challenged, let alone losing.
Anyway, what if they go 5-9 and the other five teams are all 2-3?
Possible? For sure. No question about it.
And that will present some wacky, wacky tiebreakers involving points differential and head-to-head and will cause the abacus to blow up, I’m sure.
So because it’s the most confusing thing possible, that’s precisely what will happen.
I am entirely interested to see what kind of crowds these games here might draw. I’m pretty sure there’s not a huge ex-pat Spanish or Kiwi or Lithuanian or Lebonese population here and I think I can probably count all the Canadian fans in Izmir on my fingers and toes.
The gym seats about 10,000, I’m told and I wonder if it’ll be half full for any of the games.
I do recall being tremendously surprised at the very first world championship game I ever covered, though, and it gave me a true glimpse of how far-reaching and emotional this championship can be
It was 1994, I was working at Canadian Press and wandered down the QEW to see Croatia-Cuba open the worlds at Copps in Hamilton.
Expecting a handful of fans more curious than anything, I was stunned to a few thousand rabid Croatian supporters waving flags and screaming their lungs out and it was very, very cool. Croatia killed them, as I recall.
Hope it’s like that here, but I have my doubts.
This is the first time I will have spent any time in a predominantly Muslim country and I have to tell you, the call to prayers I heard a couple of times yesterday – and will hear five times a day, I’m told – was quite cool.
I don’t profess to have any great knowledge of the religion and trying to discover some things about it during the time here in Turkey will be something near the top of the list.
For now? I’ll get used to the noise.
I’m told by someone I trust that Jose Calderon is not here in Izmir with the Spanish national team; he’s back home with his wife and newborn son and it’s doubtful he’ll get here for the first round of the tournament.
Too bad, it would have been nice to catch up but, if I’m him, I’d rather stay at home for a week and maybe meet up with the team for the playoff round in Istanbul that starts next weekend.
Who knows, though, he could arrive and then we’d have another story to do but for right now, that looks doubtful.
You know you’re at a world championships and not the NBA Finals when you get on the elevator to go down to breakfast and you see a couple of distantly familiar faces.
And they turn out to be a guy from New Zealand and a guy from Greece you run into every couple of years. No idea about names – they weren’t wearing their credentials that are like those “Hello, my name is …” tags sported by conventioneers – but it was different from an NBA gig where you might meet a guy from Washington and one from Denver that you see five or six times a season.
Oh, my Great Deity That You Worship!
Even from half a world away I can find out DWTS stuff (hello, Super Wife!) and you’ve got to read this!
Not sure that’s the best career move he’s ever made; I don’t know that the fellas from Oz would approve.
And David Hasselhoff? Yikes. What would Spongebob Squarepants say? (If you get that one, good on ya!)
Anyway, we’ll dissect it more when it’s official on Monday but I’m not sure about this lineup.
The trouble with this specific version of this tournament, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, is that it’s so spread out. The first round games are in four distant cities so I can only see three games a day in person; and I’m sure there’ll be days when it’s only two because of some kind of basketball overload.
Too bad, though, because today, I’d really like to see Russia-Puerto Rico because that’s a hugely important game in Group C (those two teams should fight with China for seeding behind Turkey and Greece and that’s the crossover group for Canada’s Group D) but, alas, it’s over in Ankara.
And I have no clue where Kayseri is but I’d like to be there to see Germany-Argentina. The Germans are one of the great unknowns of the tournament – they could be very good – and Argentina is, well, Argentina and always fun to watch.
Guess it’ll take some e-mails and phone calls to spies and friends at those games to get the lowdown.
Usually these affairs, there are a couple of arenas within a short distance of one another (The SkyDome and Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto in ’94; I can’t remember the two gyms they used in Greece in 1998 but one was in Piraeus at the port and the other was a short ride away at the Olympic stadium and the used Conseco and the Dome in Indy in 2002.
All right, it’s mid-day here, some of you are still sleeping, I presume, so I’m going on a walkabout to see what fun and interesting things I can find to report.