20 November 2010

Klaipeda Neptunas vs Vilnius Perlas

Merlin: They say that, in Lithuania, basketball is second only to god. Thirty litas ($11.90) got us into a house of worship this past friday night, where we witnessed the hometown boys take on the capital city team. Klaipeda almost pulled out the upset, but the visitors were a little too much bigger, better and they weren't coached by a raving lunatic.
Rebecca: I bought the tickets at a mall in Kaunas a few days earlier and we arrived in Klaipeda, hours prior to the game, a little unsure of where exactly it was to take place. After crossing and re-crossing a highway (and having a helpful woman at a jewelry counter call her teenage daughter for some insight) we figured out the game 'stadium' - which was really just a gym as big as any high school's - was adjacent to the megamall, Akropolis. We knew we were in the right place when we spotted the Vilnius Perlas team bus and a very tall Lithuanian in the parking lot.
Merlin: Basketball really is huge here. The NBA channel is on TV everywhere we've stayed and the national team has won three olympic bronze medals. I guess I expected more people to be at the game. The "stadium" was full, but there were only about three hundred people there. This league, the LKL, isn't exactly ready for television coverage or anything, but that wasn't the point. It was fun to be able to sit almost on the court, watch people compete at a fairly high level and get caught up in the excitement of a close game. We were close enough that Rebecca was hit by a ball - one of the things she had been hoping to get out of the experience.
Rebecca: It's true. Though, Merlin helped me to achieve my goal by deflecting the ball off of himself, right into my hands.
Rebecca: Every time the opposition had the ball, we would hear these awful horns sound over and over until they shot or turned it over somehow. Then, chanting began and we realized that there was a rowdy, enthusiastic bunch of fans in the corner of the gym, above our heads. I'm not quite sure why they took their shirts off. Maybe it was to impress the cheerleaders.
Merlin: Notice the police presence, at top right in the picture.
Merlin: Rebecca took this picture. I wasn't going to take any because it seemed strange to point my camera at them when we were sitting so close and they were dressed like cheerleaders. They had a number of costume changes and a more impressive routine than I would have imagined, given the small venue and crowd.
Rebecca: They had more than one routine actually. One involved hula hoops, another ribbons and costumes straight out of Aladdin. Of course, there were pom poms. I think the fatal error for our Klaipedians was that the cheerleaders were too busy changing their costumes to root them on during the play.
Merlin: We got a grease-smeared bag of these fried, garlic covered slices of rye bread. They were delicious, mostly because of all the oil that they were able to hold onto. We also drank quite a few beers and made friends with the concessions man.
Rebecca: Kepta Duona (fried bread) is a big thing here, but we've mostly seen it served as sticks not chips. When we bought these, we were sort of hoping (though also really not hoping) they were smoked pigs ears, which are also a big Lithuanian thing.
Merlin: The final score was 78 - 85, Vilnius. Our team played really hard, led by one guy we called "Steve Nash," because he was small and a point guard, and another guy we called "BGB," which is an acronym for "Big Guy Beard." BGB, it turns out, is from West Virginia, but we didn't know that until we checked the box score for the game.
Rebecca: Like Merlin said earlier, the Neptunas really did have a lot to overcome, like their height difference and their crazy coach. He reminded me of one of those wooden dolls with a pull string that makes their arms and legs move up and down simultaneously - or, like a big, pouty toddler throwing a fit while making a snow angel. Let's just say his emotions got the best of him and his limbs. Anyway, it was great.

1 comment:

  1. enjoyed the banter of your collaboration...sounds like you had fun:)