“Free tickets! Free tickets!”, that’s all that’s running through my mind. I still cant believe as we figure out where they are, that we are only 4 rows back, 5 meters from “where the fit birds that dance are”. This was a great game (aside from questionable officiating). Rytas came out firing on all cylinders, getting the crowd entangled into the game. There were lots of shots made, villainous missed calls by the refs, several thunderous dunks, a large deficit to overcome, and a climactic pressure filled finally with the good guys coming out on top. The aftermath resembled a new year’s party.
But lets start from the beginning. No pregame procession is complete without fried bread and local beer at a local pub (pictured below).
As part of my effort to give small insightful details, I will give an important tip for those that may ever be in town to see a game; use a bus to get there (#53 is good). The arena and surroundings are made for probably 4000 cars to park, so when 6500 cars show up, its quite a problem. Every piece of curb, grass and even handicap space was used up and it took almost 20 minutes just to find a curb to jump on. In addition, Lithuanians are very Western-European like in the anti-bumping of car when parallel parking so not getting into a steamy situation over contact is best (I’ve never seen a car bump a car when parking, but I’d imagine some of the owners would be more upset then P. Diddy circa 1999 if you squeezed J-lo’s ass in front of him).
Affordable beer and snacks are still here, but as capitalism arrives I fear they may not last. Look what 3 Euros can get you!
Oh, and don’t worry, there were even cup holders in every chair so I never spilled the bear amidst all the excitement.
After ordering a couple beers and breads we made the perfectly timed entry to the last 30 seconds of some song or anthem.
Those that didn’t get tickets to the sold out game had to watch it on a 90 minute delay. The abundant Svyturys beer advertisements on every, uniform, scorer’s table, wall and sometimes dance team’s outfits, make it illegal to show the game before 10 pm when children are still up. Beer is a big deal here so I feel compelled to talk about it.
As they seem to in every game, Rytas came out strong. But Fenerbahce Ulker matched the intensity and hit virtually every jumper they took, taking a surprising lead into half.
Seeing James White was electrifying (excellent book chapter).
This is the only guy courageous enough to attempt to touch the top of the backboard (and be only an inch off!)
Too bad he couldn’t hang in the Spurs system, because as a fan seeing a well balanced swingman like this that can jump out of the gym and get hot from the outside, is well worth the price of admission. As I tried for 5 minutes to hype up his abilities, and the possibility of us seeing something amazing, we were repeatedly distracted.
Every several minutes we were amazed with new acrobatic feats, as pictured below.
Then whenever we would concentrate on the game, they would change outfits into even brighter colors (not right in front of us but right around the corner) and come back to recapture our attention.
Speaking of excitement, someone forgot to tell Semih Erden he’s white. He had some monstrous dunks with about 75% of the power of Daryl Dawkins. He looked huge and athletic. Even the misses were exciting. I am not sure if his post up game is quite ready, but he can finish dunks like no other forward I’ve seen in a while.
The home-field bull horns and team came out with massive wrath and intensity.
Thunder sticks were also put to good use.
The 3rd quarter was unfair to the visitors. Willie Solomon and Terrance Kinsey had to play by themselves, literally. The rest of the team were actually remote controlled dummies used for strictly in bounding and symbolic defense purposes. The two of them had to score and make every play for about 8 mins of the 3rd quarter. Good thing they were up to the task. Without those two, Rytas would have put the game away in the 3rd with a 30-3 run like if the Lakers (with Shaq and
Jackson Vroman Couldn’t believe he fouled out!
Having seem him in person a few nights before I noticed that he’s legitimately huge. Hollis Price on the other hand is definitely one of the more generously “listed at 187cm” people I have seen. At one point in the second half, I thought he got run over by truck when on of the 150 kilo forwards set a brutal moving pick on him. Think like the car accident that kills Brad Pitt in Meet Joe Black. Then the refs immediately called him for the foul as he was trying to regain consciousness. That’s more fair and balanced that Foxnews I tell you!
As part of my fair and balanced reporting I will have to award the “Bruce Bowen douchebag” play of the night to a local guy, Arturas Jomantas. As he fouled Willie Solomon on the break, he managed to squeeze and extra forearm hit to the back in an attempt to bounce Willie into the floor. In my book that would have been a flagrant or a technical since he never went for the ball, only the cheap shot, but because Willie never fell, and the refs were not too interested in making correct or consistent calls, the foul was just a regular one.
“Pretend you’re not interested, act like we’re deterring crime”.
Armed forces were also there to enjoy the game.
When the team began to chop the 7 point deficit with 6 minutes to go the crowd started to get into it;
This was the Do or DIE game. Lose and season ends, win and you still have a chance. My free ticket dream lives on!