The warnings were there. At the media welcome on Friday, the Spanish press had said the nation hadn’t warmed up to the 2014 FIBA World Cup. Only two games per day are being shown live here and, with the rare exception of Tuesday, even the star-studded USA line-up is relegated to the graveyard shift on Spanish television as the rest of their games clash directly with the national team. Monday was the rest day for Group C so there were only two sensible things to do in Bilbao, sample the region’s famous cuisine and find a bar showing Spain’s game with Brazil.
The former was easy, the Basque Country has developed a strong reputation in Europe in recent years and La Vina del Ensanche didn’t disappoint but even a few helping hands on Twitter couldn’t help me find a bar for Spain’s clash with Brazil. This is Basque Country, apathy towards the Spanish team is understandable but a 45 minute walk through the heart of the city, past countless bars and three members of the New Zealand roster proved fruitless as I searched for somewhere showing the game. Half a bottle of Rioja and five beers in, I figured it was time to call it a night before finally coming across a bar near Abando metro stop with the game.
There were 2 minutes to play in the first half and 9 people were there, 1 wasn’t even watching the game. By the time the third quarter started, it was just me and the disinterested other left. A few cops came in for coffee but whatever hope I had that Bilbao had World Cup fever had evaporated. The Spanish press were right. No-one here cared. Then, one member of the Susijengi saved the day.