Counting Down With Finality

Today’s match against Israel (a 93-56 triumph) was unwinding down. The issue of who would be victorious had been settled for some time, yet even so, I found myself bracing for an excitement.

For you see, as the final moments of each Eurobasket match concludes, it is then that a particular song emerges loudly from the pavilion’s loudspeakers. This song is both a bittersweet elegy to the fleeting laurels of conquest, and by extension, a meditation on our own mortality…

Ah, there it is! As the keyboards soar, the sublime music floats above the parquets, gripping me with its melancholic elegance, and bequeathing my skin a ripple of gooseflesh.

Perhaps you have heard this obra maestra yourself? It comes by way of a grouping known by its continental ambition: Europe.

In other newsworthiness, Marca.com interviewed me with queries that yielded news of tidbitsiness:

—I will not partake of terror movies. Going to the cinema and paying to be frightened is an incomprehensible activity.

—My iPod is brimming with hip-hop, although Europe and other strains of hairy metal will soon be added.

—I do not cook. My mother and Cristina prepare many meals, or I enjoy restaurant fare. If I dine solo, my repast will be composed of unfrozen foods. And as I gaze at the microwave and the digital seconds decrease before my eyes, an aria will always rise, unbidden, to my mind. Can you guess what it is? I thought as much!


The Polish Colossus

In a game filled with fervent nips and febrile tucks, Team España held off the Polish National Team with a tallying of 88-83. For my part, las estadísticas were of acceptance: 10 puntos, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 misconduct foul.

But while victory may have come our way, we are wary and forewarned. The next match against this opponent will be in Poland itself. And as a shaven-pated Polish colossus gathered 16 rebounds today, who knows what damage Marcin Gortat might wreak when he strides on the soil of his homecourt?


I Have But One Question for Kyle Korver

Where IS this mystic, mountainous realm of "Iowa"?

Adición: Is it unseemly to restrain a smile at the news that Sasha Vujacic has been cut from the Slovenian National Team just days before the Eurobasket tournament begins? I thought as much.


A Machine with a Halo

Team España’s two most recent Eurobasket matches may be of heightened interest to passersby. Today, we enjoyed a spirited but surprisingly easy victory over Linus Kleiza and his Lithuanian mates. And previously, we vanquished Sasha Vujacic and Slovenia.

Matching against Sasha is always of interest, particularly since his mantle of European flair was passed to me this season.

At the “Official Website of ‘the Machine’”, a Sasha Vujacic enthusiast writes of his take on the Spain/Slovenia match: “On every possession, each team attempts to run to the other side of the court before their opponents can get there.”

Indeed! What this commentator leaves unsaid is the following crucial plot development: In such an eventuality, the possessors of the basketball attempt to insert it in a downward trajectory through the hoop itself.

I will confess to a fascination with this account. Por ejemplo, note the fashion in which the writer sidles up to how Sasha is a primary ball-handler: “Sasha’s team number is the number six; a multiple of the number 18 and the same number Ricky Rubio wore for Team Spain. Watching the game, it appeared Sasha played the position of point guard.”

I think most readers will agree that the most seamless segue-ways are the ones that do not employ prime numbers.

Another portion of Sasha’s site pays devotions to his various headbandings. To wit:

It is material like this which is to enjoy it very much!


Sergio Misses Out on San Miguel

As is known, San Miguel is the sponsor of Team España in this summer's Eurobasket tournament. Does this mean we mates have unlimited access to their libations? View the good-natured tussle in this team video and make a judgment of your own!

These good times my mates enjoy make me miss El Chacho even more. But Sergio demanded unthinkable guarantees of playing minutes. Besides, he enjoys Dutch beers like Amstel more than San Miguel. (Now that IS unthinkable!)


Eminent Degrees in "Threes"

Our first match in the initial phases of the Eurobasket playoffs was a victory over Cuba, 94-57. It was a good scrimmaging, but the outcome was never questioned.

One dislikes scoring prohibitively against our overmatched Cuban comrades, so Ricky Rubio scored not at all. (Even so, he once crossed up his defender so severely, Ricky made him unintentionally cross an international border.)

My statistics: 10 puntos (2/2, 2/4 triples, 2 rebounds), 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 losses of ball ownership, and 2 misconduct fouls in 19 minutes of the playing.

Speaking of Las Estadísticas, let me bestow many strokes of gratitude to Señor Adam Price, who writes:


A friend of mine accused Rudy of being a volume 3 point shooter, so I looked it up. Among all Blazers with career 3 point totals of more than 100, Rudy has the second highest 3 point shooting percentage. (Steve Blake edges him out.)

Some of those guys played a long time, though, and had plenty of time to launch bombs. Only five Blazers in history have hit an average of 2 three-pointers or more per game played (and now we are down to two currently signed Blazers).

Some of those guys got lots of playing time, so I factored that out. Here is the final stat. Among players with career totals of at least 100 3-pointers with Portland, which one player has been the most likely to step on to the court and drill a three in the minutes he is given?

Answer: El Machetero!!!


My thanks, Adam Price! It is good to be recognized in this fashion. Truly, I have devoted myself wholeheartedly to my developments as a player. But as my father says, “For a man to attain anything to an eminent degree costs him time, watching, hunger, nakedness, dizziness in the head, weakness in the stomach, and other inconveniences.”

Then he would make me shoot 200 three-pointers and go fishing with him!


El Gran Hombre

A recent team injury has caused me to contemplate the role of large individuals. In my researchings, I have learned that in the 1950s, these oversized men began playing basketball from altitudes that were not thinkable at the time. (This 1957 comic rendering gives a notion of this.)

This brings me to the topic at hand: In practice the other day, Pau Gasol tore his index finger giving the swat to Felipe Reyes’ weak sauce. Pau's return to the parquet is unknown and doubtful.

Although the oversized hombre was once an outlandish addition to a team, now he is of the finest importance. Thus, one wonders how our Team España will fare in Pau’s absence.

If only we could procure another oversized Spanish individual. But where could we could find one?

The Jack Davis illustration is derived from this fine volume.
Foto from The Blow Torch.


One of These Mates Is Not Like the Others

As the Spanish National Team practices, the time nears for us to pull up our socks and get the job done. But even so, there are moments of levitation. Here, the team is at a press conference. Pau and I engage in fun at the expense account of Ricky Rubio.

Pau: You appear tanned and well-rested, Rudy.

Me: It is true, I have spent much of the summer basking beneath El Sol. How else is one to go beyond the pale? Now let me pose you a riddle. One of the three mates on this stage is not like the others. Can you guess in what manner this is true?

Pau: Sí! Only one person on this stage has achieved an NBA championship!

Me: I grant you that, but think again.

Pau (considering): Ah, now I see. Only one of the mates on this stage is not under contract to play in the NBA this year. [We chortle.]

Ricky: It appears I will be passing the ball exclusively to Victor Claver in our next match. [Our chuckling ends abruptly with Ricky’s riposte.]

Our lesson is learned: Never annoy your Experto en Parquets BEFORE the playoffs commence!
Foto from Rudy Fans,
Ricky Rubio graphic from this location.


Crimson Mantles and Sable Veils

I have been looking forward to the Eurobasket championships with every breath of my heart. And here, the team physician confirms it!

Now that I have passed the requisite examinings, I am cleared to attire myself in the Spanish National Team’s most auspicious outfit (below). Its color brings to mind El Sol reclaiming his crimson mantle from the blushing skies, and allowing dark night to unfurl her sable veil.

Plus, I look good in red!
Fotos by Emilio Cobos for FEB, from Rudy5.net.