Europe 2K11

This is my inventory of basketball experiences for 2011 that was originally posted in my 'Loz in Translation' blog.

house of hoops, barcelona, ricky rubioI've been a terrible viajero. I'm watching far too much basketball, since I'm in Europe I really should be embracing football. The 2011 NBA Playoffs have been so compelling you can hardly blame me. Whilst I do as the Romans do I also like to honor what I enjoy at home when I travel. Thankfully Spain has delivered my twin joys of Wrestling and Basketball.

Baloncesto is Spain's number 2 sport. Whilst most are aware that Spain are current World Cup title holders for football. The Spaniards are also reigning FIBA European Basketball champions, having bested Serbia in 2009. There are many Spanish players represented in the NBA, the most well-known being perennial All Star Pau Gasol. His brother Marc and national teammate Rudy Fernandez have been key for their teams this playoffs. The Association awaits the belated arrival of the much-hyped Ricky Rubio.

My love for the game whilst at times proving a distraction has also allowed me to connect with locals
  • Played full court pickup games at Olympiapark in München
  • Hung with kids playing streetball in San Lorenzo, Roma
  • Shot hoops for hours with a local in Barcelona
  • 2 on 2 with locals and attended a 3 on 3 tournament by the beach in Porto, Portugal
  • Caught a regional bus to play ball with Amsterdam Noord locals in the pouring rain. Hookup courtesy of a Dutch guy I befriended after asking about his "STAT NY" shirt. This HipHop bar became my regular Amsterdam hang with a Dutch BBall crew
  • Shot around with a Greek Jake Shuttlesworth. I found a court whilst biking from Rotterdam to Scheveningen (near Den Haag). Incorporating his knowledge of basketball and musicmaking, he imparted some great life advice.
  • Memorable first night in Brighton, England. After spending a good deal of the night hangin' with street performers. We longboarded and had a competitive game of 2-on-2 with charming lesbians at 2 in the morning.
  • Won my inaugural 'Three-Point Shootout' in the Panevėžys Fan Zone. Got to go on stage in front of a big crowd to collect my prize and do an interview. This makes it the second time I've gone on stage to collect a prize after a last-minute entry. I went on to compete several more times in Šiauliai, diluting my winning percentage. This includes being torched by a 12yr old in my second finals.
  • Pickup games in hoops-mad Lithuania whilst they host an international tournament means you're playing ball with people from all over the world - From France to Australia, Lithuania and Portugal
  • Have always wanted to visit Clutch city. Waited in line for a half hour with hundreds of people, one shot from the FT line to win a 'FIBA shirt'. Banked it, totally didn't call it. Missed the second shot to win a reversable. Chatted to staff later and I ended up being given one anyway, leapfrogging the others. Probably didn't deserve either prize but I never turn down hospitality
  • Watched a BBL (Baltic Basketball League) game hosted by BK Ventspils. Participated at the halftime show poorly aping a cheerleader's acrobatics. The crowd awarded me the 2nd prize, winning the Ventspils T-shirt I'd bought earlier
  • Watched another BBL game, this time in Tartu, Estonia. Was spotted by a CouchSurfer who noticed me at the game, this fellow basketball fan graciously hosted me for two nights. Days later I shot hoops at the the foot of the Parliament in the capital Tallinn.
  • Through a CouchSurfing connect, I befriended a collection of athletic Germans who studied at Sporthochschule Köln, the most respected Sports University in Germany. I managed to ball with them in their school gym.
Its also just been an enjoyable way to pass the time
  • Watched 4 NBA/NCAA games go into OT, including the 'Noche Latina' 3OT comeback thriller between Los Suns and Los Lakers. Witnessed both Western Conference Game 1 upsets
  • Floored by highlights of the greatest Baloncesto comeback during siesta TV time - UNI vs RMB
  • Scouted Ricky Rubio in person, watched Barcelona drop homecourt against Panathinaikos in Euroleague competition
  • Hanging at Iberico, Tapas Bars and pubs watching the Euroleague
  • Watching the 2011 playoffs till sunrise at laptops around Spain and Portugal
  • Watching Eurobasket 2011 games in Various arenas around Lithuania - Panevėžys, Šiauliai and Vilnius
  • Connected with several basketball journalists, fans, staff and players during EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania
  • Mingled with EuroBasket players from Georgia, Russia, Finland, Macedonia and France in nightspots in Vilnius and Kaunas
  • Chillin' by the Riga Opera House watching streetballers Jurtchix, Elmis and Mixtyper doing their thing. The boys had just formed a new crew and were filming a joint project
  • Enjoyed a heated match between Besiktas at Antalya in Turkey. Saw former NBA players Adam Morrison, Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Carlos Arroyo in action for Besiktas.
  • Befriended a former Laker intern for the 09' Champion Lakers on the bus from Göreme to Istanbul. Hooped at the Nike Beyoğlu courts Kobe unveiled in 2011. The Galatasaray Euroleague game was sold out, we befriended Young Turks and made the best of it. We were distracted saying our goodbyes when this Hail Mary went in. Doh! We sat back down to watch the overtime.
I love this game!
- Krepšinis: I love this game - Basketball in Europe (PtII: Lietuva)

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