EuroBasket train moved onward to Ljubljana yesterday - and on the train was Susijengi!
Time to draw a bit of breath after the first stages of EuroBasket2013 - the week in Koper was one of the most memorable ones I've spent in my career covering sports. With wins over Turkey and Sweden - the week got the perfect start, small stuttering in the Italy game, but what an end to the week with the nail-biter against Russia and then the huge performance against Greece.
To take a win when heading to Ljubljana for Round Two - that makes all the difference here, both for the Finns and Greeks.
It might sound like bit of repetition, but having been around this Susijengi for the past seven or so years - it has been so great to see these players (some whom I've started to know quite well) reach this level of performance here in Slovenia (and in the years leading to here) and the game really being talked about in the main stream media in Finland.
Few individual bits I will always remember from the last week :
- "Hakkaa Paalle" shouts during the O.T vs Russia
- The Fan Meet after the Sweden game
- Fans singing "Happy Birthday' to Hanno and Teemu before the tip-off.
- Hanno's celebration after the 3 pointer vs Russia
- THE win over Greece
And - last but not least, the great and helpful organisation/volunteers at Koper, things couldn't have been better from my point of view. As someone mentioned, having Finland's group stages in Koper.. it was like winning the lottery :-) Great venue, great town... great games and great time!!
During those days, hopefully I did manage to capture some images of games that have been spreading around - that tell the story on the court and off the court, after all - I am here to work, not just to enjoy the games ;-)
One thing in this tournament is different to ones I've done in the past - over here, I cover only the games I have been asked to cover. No matter how tempting the Greece vs Turkey games was, the cameras stayed in the bags and I just watched it in the Media Room.
Arrival to Ljubljana was greeted by fog/wind/rain and cold weather, for the first time in 10 days I had to wear trousers instead of shorts, long sleeves and jackets instead of t-shirts. The venue is bigger, the athmosphere less personal and more work-like... far away are the sea-front walks and smoothies.. now it's rain in Ljubljana and fighting for spaces in the photographers positions :-)
Tomorrow - we start all over again, with Finland vs Croatia!! Will my stay in Slovenia end next Tuesday, or will Susijengi 'force' me to stay here for an extra week still???
To be continued......