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August 30, 2010

Gearing up for THE BIG ONE…

Basketball is the second biggest sport in the world, I’ve discovered this week, and it’s easy to see why…

An unbelievable amount of games at the FIBA World Championships are going right down to the buzzer. As a relative newbie to the game, I’ve realised it’s not just a happy co-incidence, it’s just what happens in basketball.

Yesterday, unfancied Australia came within millimetres of an unlikely last gasp win against Argentina. Two points behind with literally split seconds to play, a three pointer attempt from Joe Ingles looked all set to provide a classic ‘dunny role’ (Aussie terminology) winner. The shot skimmed around the hoop’s entire circumference… only to agonisingly pop out… leaving Argentina’s relieved (and wonderfully vocal) fans going delightedly mental.

Some spectators around us were confused when the Argentina fans later started singing Maradona’s name in celebration. However, as the sole Englishman in the vicinity, I was able to inform them that, in fact, Maradona played basketball to a very high level.

The consistent neck-and-neck finishes almost make you think the teams might as well just play the final minute and do away with the rest. But the hectic, nail biting finishes after the slow, progressive build up are what makes the game so absorbing.

The FIBA World Championships are being shown on TV all over the world, so wherever you are, I strongly recommend you take a look…

You’ll see the high attendances and vibrant stadiums which have been the tournament standard so far. Having said that, we never would have predicted this would be the case when we arrived at the stadium on Day One. It was a complete ghost town… the car park population told 1000 stories:

It didn’t take us too long to realise that our guide, Ali, had brought us to Kayseri’s football stadium, rather than the basketball stadium, where – surprise, surprise – the basketball was happening. His job description of ‘guide’ was misguiding.

So yeah, this all meant we missed the big kick off, or rather – as it’s called in basketball – the ‘Tip Off’. Ironically, this was the moment Ali saw off his chances of a generous tip.

It didn’t matter though. Day one was a great spectacle throughout, and the proceeding two days have been no different. Unfortunately, I can’t share my pictures or videos due to the stringent licensing laws, so you’ll just have to take a look for yourself… and what better time to start than tomorrow, when hosts TURKEY TAKE ON GREECE in Ankara??

It’s going to be a red hot atmosphere, and I really can’t wait. It tips off at 7:30 UK time, so make sure you tune in. This just about gives you time to do the necessary swotting up… and you can do that by downloading the Bball app for free on the Ovi Store.

It’s a massive night ahead for both teams, and one which will answer lots of questions about their respective championship credentials. Can Greece cope with the wall of noise? Or perhaps it will be Turkey who crumble under the immense weight of expectation?

The questions don’t end there. Also under scrutiny is whether Ali can deliver the goods and get us to the right stadium… at the right time…

Might lend him our Ovi Maps for this one.