Last Tuesday in the 2010 FIBA World Championship, Team Lithuania completed a huge comeback to defeat the heavily-favored Spain 76-73 – just another win on the way to the tournament round, albeit an exceedingly exciting one, right? Wrong.
BallinEurope’s man in Lithuania, known in this space since last year’s LKL championship series insanity as Y., states that the Spain game meant a heck of a lot more for his country, the basketball-maddest in Europe if not the world. For Y. and his countrymen going into an elimination game with Argentina tonight, this edition of Team Lithuania is already heroic.
“Basketball is just a game, after all” – I remember reading this in Lithuanian media once. And I’m always thinking about it, about how that phrase really fits in our country.
In places other than Kaunas games are played in half-empty arenas, LKL mid-level games get astonishing lows in TV ratings, and our top players such as Šarūnas Jasikevičius more often opted out to rest in the summer rather than play for our National Team while, in comparison, other top teams like Spain always enjoy most of their roster intact.
“True,” I thought once, “we are not as mad about basketball as we would like to be.”