Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Hoopin it up

For the record, Latvia's national sport is ice hockey. They have a pretty good team. Or at the least, they punch above their weight for a nation of 2.5 million.

But the runner-up is basketball. ASK Riga (short for "Army Sports Club", no relation to the English word it spells) is a legendary team, having won several European titles back in the day when I can't imagine that many Europeans actually played basketball. A co-worker who is a big basketball fan offered me one of his courtside tickets for yesterday's game, when ASK triumphed in a Baltic Basketball League tilt against Lithuanian rival ┼Żalgiris. Not that courtside seats were such a huge deal - it was far from a sellout - but as with everything, it was fun to be up close, even if the quality of basketball wasn't quite NBA-caliber.

The majority of the teams are Latvian or Lithuanian guys, but each team had a couple Americans and at least one Serb and/or Croat. Why the Balkans, I'm not exactly clear. One of the Americans, named Corey Brewer - but not the more famous basketball-playing Corey Brewer - played for the Oklahoma Sooners for a couple years in the late 90's, and has been playing in developmental or Eurpoean leagues ever since. I wonder what it's like for the few American athletes, living in a place like Riga, Latvia for the chance to keep playing professionally. It probably differs from being posted here as a diplomat in several relevant regards.

The photo above is from the ASK Riga webpage, photographer unknown.

1 comment:

Alyssa said...

You're like Entourage sitting courtside!