The Wild Fans of Lithuania

My friend Kerry Seed is in graduate school for journalism, and somehow or another that work got him a ticket to Beijing this summer.

He is also a big basketball fan, and bought a scalped ticket to Spain vs. Greece followed by Lithuania vs. Argentina.

He reports that Lithuania basketball fans made his day:

The best part of both games was the crowd. People from all over the world sit next to each other, wearing their home countries' colors and waving their flags. It's hard to describe the positive feeling this creates, but it's really pretty exciting. The Greek fans were vocal and had a drum. But I have never in my life seen anything like the display put on by the Lithuanian fans. It was better than watching Slapshot. All dressed in green, hundreds of them gathered in their own little black hole under one of the baskets. Thousands more were scattered throughout the arena. They stood and yelled and sang and blew horns in unison for the entire game.

I definitely never saw them sit and there were very few moments of silence. It was a beautiful thing.

Argentina is another NBA all-star team. They've got Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni, Carlos Delfino, and Fabricio Oberto on the team. And, at times, they played with that lineup. The only NBA player on Lithuania is Linas Kleiza.

However, Lithuania came to play and Argentina did not. Lithuania's roster is long. I bet the average height on their team is 6'10". And, there bigs are good ball handlers who can stroke it from downtown. Sabonis' legacy is in good hands here.

So, Lithuania clogged the middle and put the muscle on Argentina. Oberto, Nocioni and Scola are not small guys and they battled, but they never got into a rhythm.

So, in the third quarter Lithuania put on a little run and ran the lead up around 15. The Lithuanian fans love it. A guy wearing a Russia shirt next to me is freaking. And, this is where it stood going into the fourth when Manu completely took over the game and Argentina took a two-point lead tied the game with 90 seconds to go.

At some point in Argentina's run, a Lithuanian got a technical.

That's when the Lithuanian fans started to yell in English.

"F--- you referee! F--- you referee!"

When Ginobili was at the line with the chance to tie, they practiced their English again.

"Drop dead! Drop dead!"

So, when the score gets tied, Lithuania calls a timeout. And, the Russian fan sitting next to me couldn't take it anymore. He walked down to the court, as close as he could get to the railing, and began to yell encouragement to his team.

The final 90 seconds were a mad rush of missed connections and near Lithuanian collapses. It looked like Argentina was going to force overtime. Then Kleiza drained a long three with 2.3 ticks left on the clock! Bedlam. Defending champs defeated.

It was great fun.