Whither Canada and a whole lot of other fun stuff
A whole lot of this and that in the early morning hours back home while I head out to see what the Sunday mornings are like in whatever part of Izmir I’m in.
What now, Canada? Well, the chance of advancing past the first round of the world championships are not dead, but they are on life support and someone somewhere is checking out the living will to see when to pull the plug.
Well, because this is a young team that looked at times overwhelmed when the Lebanon game was in the balance and I, for one, am not surprised at all.
There isn’t an “old head” on the team, a guy to calm everyone down when things are becoming unraveled; everyone knew it coming in (even if few said it out loud) and it kind of jumped up and bit Canada on the bum.
So be it.
As I mentioned in this story for the website and paper, in the long run this group will likely be better off for what transpired.
I know that’s of no consolation to the players and the coaches – or even a lot of fans – but it’s a fact, pure and simple. This appearance was about learning and growing and dealing with things and they are. Not well yesterday, mind you, but they are and, eventually, it’s going to help.
Now, can they still advance?
There’s been enough wacky stuff at enough tournaments I’ve been at that I can safely say this: I have no idea.
I’m dubious, quite dubious as a matter of fact, about their chances but you’ve got to play the games to see what happens and that’s what they’ll do.
Hey, the Aegean is blue and nice and pretty from a distance and all that but when you’re riding in cab back from the arena about 11 at night and cruise past the port area of the city, you can sure get a whiff of the, um, freshness of the marine life around these parts.
Kind of wakes a fella up and runs counter to the charm of this city of about 3 million, with its small, tree-lined avenues and old time European feel.
It’s always a hoot at these things to see what the security situation is like.
It’s been my experience that the institutionalized security paranoia that’s sweeping the world runs amok when it’s a small group of untrained volunteers doing the checking at the doors.
No difference here, that’s for sure.
The first thing you see when you walk into Halkapinar Arena here is a metal detector and a rather stern looking teenage volunteer standing next to it.
And then you walk through carrying all your goods – it’s no more than two paces in the door with nowhere to drop a bag or empty pockets – and it lets out the incessant beat that those things emit.
Um, wouldn’t that mean someone should pay attention?
Young Security Lad barely looks up as the thing beeps and chimes and buzzes every time anyone walks through.
Guess it’s a practice site for the real security check, which is no more than 20 steps up the hall.
There, they have an X-ray machine and a handful of guards – still teens but tougher looking teens -- around a metal detector holding wands. Now, they mean business, right? Um, no. Not so much.
Yes, I did see a couple of people wanded but I walked through at least 10 times over the course of nine hours in the gym, set the thing off just about every single time and not once did anyone stop me, look at me, or seem bothered in the least.
Man, did I feel safe.
Of course, it’s also my experience at these events that things can change overnight and I fully expect at some time to be greeted by gun-toting army officers. That’ll be fun.
Did you know you can get fresh air in your hotel room in Izmir?
Civilized, I tell ya.
One question I have to ask my friends from Turkey when I run into them later today is:
What in the heck did Ricky Rubio ever do to tick so many people off?
Now, he didn’t get the (boring) Vince Carter-in-Toronto treatment and there were more than a few French fans in the building when Spain played France on Saturday night but the scorn heaped down on the kid was really something.
Whistles, catcalls and boos every time he touched the ball in France’s shocking win and I don’t know if it got to him but in the chunks of the game I saw, he was quite ordinary.
Just so you know …
The Chicken here is a cat who thinks it’s a dog who loves doing tricks and goofing around and likes to fetch things and has one green eye and one blue one.
Oh, and he/she/it is really fond of, you know, mischief, the silly Chicken/Cat/Dog.
Yes, that is code and you can learn all about it here.
No one – no one! – got the Spongebob Squarepants/David Hasselhoff reference here yesterday.
So this is why this tournament, even in its early stages, can be so good.
France 72, Spain 66.
I still think Spain’s one of the best teams here – if they’re not on the medal podium two weeks from today I’ll be shocked – but the result just goes to show that, really, anything can happen.
Now, I saw France play in person and, let me tell you, the team that was on the court Saturday night bore no resemblance to the one that played Canada in Toronto and that should serve as a huge reminder that most of what goes on before a big global basketball tournament should always be taken with a grain of salt.
But closer to home the result does really mess up Group D and Canada’s chances of advancing to the round of 16.
With the loss to Lebanon, Canada is probably going to need some help to get through and France stumbling was something they had to be hoping for.
I’ve always thought it was going to take two wins for Canada to go through and that it wasn’t going to be easy. I also thought that two wins might only get them into some kind of multi-team tie for the final two spots and I had France as a team that might have only had two victories and be in that group as well.
But having stolen one against the top team, France in the driver’s seat to advance. And tell me who’d have thought that after they lost twice to Canada in Toronto?
So they announced the attendance at the Canada-Lebanon game at 5,500 and that seems about right in the 10,000-seat arena. It was a decidedly pro-Lebanon crowd, likely because of the couple hundred or so flag-waving, chanting fans from there who took over one entire section.
Canada? There had to be a dozen, maybe two dozen, hardcore fans.