Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Another Lithuania Adventure, Part 2: To the Hoop, Y'all

Basketball fever has gripped Lithuania, the Butler of international competition. A small country with a strong hoops tradition, Lithuania's team has performed well in tournaments, but has not won a major championship (it has received the bronze in Olympic competition three times, but no medals in the FIBA World Championships). Unlike its NCAA counterpart, Lithuania hopes not only to make it to the big game this year, but to knock off the international equivalent of Duke along the way.

Erik spent the last couple of evenings taking in the competition. He watched the US thrash Angola on the big screen TV at Alaus Namai on Monday. On Tuesday, he joined the crowd in front of the Ratusha in Vilnius' Old Town to watch Lithuania edge out China.
Erik arrived on the square around 45 minutes ahead of time, and found a great seat in an outdoor beer garden. He watched the pre-game warmup, featuring a clown, a Mickey Mouse clone, Superman, and a gyrating woman in a skin-tight purple dress. The clown and Mickey cruised the crowd for volunteers while Superman served as the emcee, with the purple woman playing the role of Superman's Vanna White. They were accompanied by a "Dixieland" band, which Erik believes was called Chicago. [Note to Lithuanian musicians - this name was already taken by a mawkish American soft rock group in the 1970s - avoid it at all costs.] Inexplicably, the Dixieland band played the Village People's YMCA repeatedly during one of the contests. In any case, contests were held and prizes won. One more thing - the guy who won was sporting a mullet. Of course, a photo is below as proof.
The square filled with people as the game progressed. Erik gave his table to eager Lithuanians after the first half and cruised around to observe the crowd. Lithuania is a strong team that played poorly in the opening quarter, but pulled it out by a comfortable margin at the end. If the US and Lithuania survive the next elimination round, they will meet in a semi-final on Saturday.

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