It should be a wild night in Ankara
I don’t think I’ve ever wished I was in Ankara, Turkey.
At events like these, there’s always one game you can’t miss and tonight the one we’ve all been waiting for takes place.
Turkey vs. Greece and if you don’t think that’s going to be an emotional night, you’re not quite up on your history of these parts.
Short story: They fought a war right here in Izmir from 1919-1922 and to say there are some hard feelings to this day is a pretty large understatement.
No matter what anyone says publicly – and it’s all be sweetness and light in the days leading up to tonight’s game – there were be a level of intensity at that game likely unmatched in this tournament.
It what makes things like this so, so good and so hard to explain unless you’ve been to one. There’s almost a tension in the air that you can feel and I can only imagine what it’ll be like in that arena.
And given that Monday was Victory Day, a national holiday to commemorate the final battle in that Turkish War of Independence in 1922 just makes it more juicy.
Big, big day here in Group D, that’s for sure.
As I kind of laid out in this piece, Canada not only has to win but has to get some help.
And the Spain-Lithuania game to end the day will be a good test for my tournament favourites. There’s no doubt they played with less than 100 per cent intensity against France the other day, but if they don’t go all out against Lithuania, they’ll lose for sure and that will get them a much tougher trip through the playoff round in all likelihood.
Okay, we may as well start the whole process of gathering mail, although I have no idea what day on the weekend it’ll get up.
Why just down the street there’s a McDonald’s that will take your phone orders and deliver, I’m told (no, I have not stooped that low by any stretch of the imagination) and there’s Burger King a couple of doors away (no, haven’t been there, either).
And then there are the knock-offs. Like the one you see here.
(And you can only imagine how proud I am that I had the technological savvy to make this work).
We’re sitting at some café on some street on a scorching afternoon (don’t think it’s been below 40 a day since I got here and the humidity’s about 150 per cent, it seems) and the TV’s on inside.
And what do the eyes behold:
Slovenia-Croatia in a humdinger of a game.
I think at one point the teams combined to make about six three-pointers on six straight possessions, it was wil
But it was also like a trip back in time.
There’s The Gangster (on the court, not stretching at the scorers table) and Uros Slokar for Slovenia and Roko Ukic for Croatia and the mind was racing with memories of guys who’ve sat the end of the Raptors bench.
But toss in Bostjan Nachbar and Goran Dragic with Slovenia and Zoran Planinic with Croatia and it was like some Baltic Balkan NBA showcase.
All we needed was Rasho and it would have been a dream game.
Anyone catch USA-Brazil anywhere on TV yesterday?
Great game all around, the Americans win by two when Brazil’s Marcelo Huertas missed two free throws with three seconds left; the second one intentionally and Brazil got the rebound but Leandro Barbosa couldn’t convert a tough inside shot at the buzzer.
As My Man Sheridan points out in this piece a loss wouldn’t have been devastating to the Americans and he thinks maybe some good will come out of being tested so hard.
I wonder about that.
I think a lot of teams now – Spain, Greece, Argentina, Turkey and Brazil for sure – are gaining all kinds of confidence seeing the Americans being stretched out in games like the one against Brazil and the exhibition in Spain 10 days ago.
I know in the short-sighted North American view of things (or maybe it’s just the short-sighted United States view of things) there is some kind of awe associated with the spectre of some big, bad NBA star-laden roster.
But, trust me, that view is not held around the world a whole bunch of players and teams in this tournament see the United States as just another team that can lose at any time.
And that’s going to make the playoff round tremendous.
Right, the Izmir International Fair?
Think the CNE without trash or tackiness.
A huge park in the middle of the city, palm tree-lined avenues, a man-made lake with paddle boats, exhibition halls filled with the stuff you’d see at any trade fair but also with historical displays of Turkey’s past.
Sure, there’s a midway with rides and such but it was kind of tranquil. No hawkers yelling, no stupid games of (no) chance, no overwhelming noise.
Very, very cool and a perfect way to kill a couple of hours of an off-day.
Here’s a little tit-for-tat.
And some NBA news, such that it is.
I notice the Phoenix Suns have signed none other than Dwayne Jones, the guy they traded to Toronto in the Leandro Barbosa-Hedo Turkoglu transaction.
The Raptors waived him, of course, in part because they didn’t want to guarantee his contract and mostly because there was no room for him on the roster.
But by taking him in the trade, it allowed the Raps to have a big bigger trade exception that they ultimately used to get David Andersen from Houston. And now Phoenix gets a guy back they never really wanted to lose anyway.
Hey, don’t forget to check back here about 11:30 eastern time for Canada-France and the in-game blog thingy.
Might be a good one.