Sleuyter Arena/Versluys|Dôme

Team – Telenet Oostende

Getting to City – We take the Eurotunnel so we can drive the whole way.

Going by bus is cheaper but longer. You can also get there by train from Brussels or Antwerp if you are already in Belgium.

City – There is a good amount of things to do in Ostend. I have personally experienced the Promonade and the Atlantic Wall Museum.

Getting to Venue –  Ostend is not huge so if you can easily walk from your hotel, if you are staying in town. There is also a large car park if you are driving.

Venue – A good sized venue with the usual plastic seats.

Food in venue –  The venue has four bars and sells the usual range of options.

 

Antwerp Sportpaleis

Team – Antwerp Giants

Getting to City – Antwerp has an airport, you can fly there from London and several other European cities. We tend to take the Eurotunnel as the drive is only a few hours (you can easily drive there on a Saturday, watch a Saturday evening game and return home on the Sunday, assuming you love within about 3 hours of the Folkestone Eurotunnel terminal).

You can also get there using Euroline buses but that will take significantly longer.

Antwerp – If you like cobbled street and Belgian beer this is a city you should visit. If you are planning a Eurotunnel overnight trip you won’t have a lot of time to see the city unless you allow for an early Saturday start and a late Sunday return.

If you do have time to explore, highlights include:

  • the Grote Markt (market square)
  • De Koninck (brewery)
  • St Anna’s Tunnel

There are also several museums, art galleries and churches.

Getting to venue– Your ticket to the sportpaleis will give you free transport on the trams to and from the event and there is a tram stop just outside the venue. If you are planning to travel around from earlier in the day or the following day a daily tram ticket is 6 euro if purchased in advance (8 euro if purchased on the tram).

If you choose to drive to the venue there is ample parking which is 5 euro for the duration of the event.

Venue –  This is a large venue, also used for gigs I believe. The venue is well signposted so it is really easy to find your seat. The seats themselves are the usually plastic seats found in sports venue so there are average for comfort.

If you are not used to Belgian venues an important point to note is that you will be charged for using the facilities (washrooms/restrooms/WCs) so make sure you have some change to hand, about 80 eurocents each should be enough.

Food in venue – The venue gets massive bonus points for efficiency, they have a great system for pouring and serving drinks so even if there is a big queue it won’t take long to get served. The usual fair of beer, wine, sparkling wine, fries etc. is available. Price are reasonable.They have a large Haribo stall but I think this is overpriced.

 

Surrey Sports Park

Access

Surrey Sports Park is easily accessible by car and they have plenty of free car parking available. The car park empties fairly quickly at the end of the game so you don’t have to worry about hanging around for a while.

There is also a nearby train station (Guilford) but I think access from the train station to the sports park can be a little time consuming.

Seats

Bleacher style seating is used at Surrey Sports Park (no back to the seats). This is quite common in BBL venues but not ideal if you have any back problems.

Food and Drink

There is a Starbucks and a bar in the venue. Within the basketball hall itself they sell hotdogs, soft drinks and Krispy Kremes.

Surrey Scorchers v London Lions

November 28 2015 – Surrey Sports Park

Tonight the London Lions travelled to their nearest rivals the Surrey Scorchers. Going in to the game Scorchers were 9th in the league, Lions were 5th.

The game did not get off to a great start with both teams committing turnovers. Lions finally broke the 0-0 deadlock.

For most of this game the Lions looked comfortable, and were in the lead. Scorchers had some brilliant plays, including some tricky passes, but frustration seemed to be getting the better of them. Scorchers were called for two unsportsmanlike fouls and one technical, in three separate incidents. It’s rare for one team to get three such fouls in one game. They will need to work on keeping their frustration in check as they can ill afford to give away free throws.

The Lions also had an issue with fouls this evening, though only common fouls. Allie Fullah fouled out in the fourth.

The Lions won every quarter, although Surrey did keep trying right up until the final possession.

The win tonight takes the Lions into the top 4 of the BBL league.

 

 

The New York Knicks

I didn’t travel for today’s Pelicans @ Knicks game (New York being a bit too far away to go for one game when I have work tomorrow). As it was a matinee game in New York I was able to watch it live without worrying about lack of sleep.

After last season, any game in which the Knicks play well feels like a prize (yes, I am a Knicks fan). This game was definitely a prize. Following two games where the Knicks narrowly lost it was a real treat to see them win, and to win a home game.

At times they still play like a team expecting to lose but there are many positive signs.

Porzingis is showing real skill in the NBA, his stats this season to date are already better than his stats for last season when he was playing in Spain. His foul count has been high in some games but in the last few he has been working on that as

Melo is actually showing that he can play defence. There have been some great blocks and steals from him this season and tonight was no exception. His offence is, usually, not in question but defence was not previously a strong point. It’s impressive to see that he has been working on this and it seem to be making a difference in the team as a whole.

Williams has amazing energy and a great basketball mind. As do Grant and Galloway.

Calderon is playing much better this season than last season, though since the team was tanking last season it’s difficult to know how much was simply poor play and how much was deliberate.

It’s still early, and I’ve been a Knicks fan long enough not to except a playoff making season but it does seem that the Knicks have the right pieces to build on. Finally.

Spirou Charleroi v Antwerp Giants November 7 2015

Last week I went to Charleroi to see Spirou take on the Giants.

I have to say that the venue was much quieter than I expected it to be, in terms of number of people. It was however nice and loud in terms of volume. The home fans have create a great atmosphere.

The supportes club displaying some impressive instruments.

The supporters club displaying some impressive instruments.

The Game

I am was pleased by the limited commentary and music during the game. It allowed the fans, home and away, to make a lot of noise to support the teams.

Antwerp were clear winners of q1, with a five point lead. Charleroi came back in q2 to go into the half with a 2 point lead. The lead flipped again by the end of q3 and finally switched again to end with a win from Charleroi.

It was a good game in that it was not easy to predict who would win. There were some sloppy mistakes made by both teams. It was not one of the more memorable games I have been to – there were few stand out moments. There was one buzzer beating three (to beat the shot-clock).

The Venue

The venue is easily accessible by car and there was plenty of nearby parking.

The venue was a good size and there was plenty of sign posting to help you find your section.

A range of food and drink was available. This was all at one point, which was adjacent to the entrance. This did cause some access issues. Available food included sandwiches, waffles, hot dogs, sweets and waffles. Standard soft drinks, wine and a range of Belgian beers were also available.

Boston Celtics v Olympia Milano

  
  
 Both teams seemed a little sluggish to start with, displaying some sloppy fouls and poor shot selection. Milan’s free throw percentage seemed low, but to be fair I don’t think Boston’s was much higher in the first quarter. The Celtics ended the first with 14 point and looked pretty comfortable.The second quarter started slowly for both teams. In the first 3 minutes Milan scored 2 points and the Celtics did not score.

The Celtics woke up though and managed to end the quarter with a 17 point lead.

Milan had a great start to q3, they brought the difference back to 10 points within the first 3 minutes. Then they let the Celtics go on a bit of a run, while increasing their foul count. The Celtics ended q3 with an 28 point lead.

The final quarter was not the most exciting 12 minutes of basketball I have ever watched. A number of the fans seemed to agree and started to leave early. In the final two minutes of the game a significant number of the attendees had left.

It was obvious that the Celtics were going to win, and had been for a while but it struck me as odd that so many people left early, the tickets were not exactly cheap.

There was not much cheering at the game – the expected applause for a good play or dunk but no chants of defence or chants for the local team. There was a definite feeling that people were there for the show rather than to support a particular team, or maybe the Italians are just more subdued at basketball than any other nation I have been to.

The Entertainment was standard NBA fare – cheerleaders, t-shirt give aways and mascots.

   

 

Spain v Lithuania

The stadium was packed for the Eurobasket final. The Lithuanian fans were clearly in attendance with large groups of them visible in several parts of the stadium. There were fewer Spain fans and I felt sorry for them as they were not able to all sit together. They were also clearly outnumbered as the French were supporting Lithuania. 
Spain started strong and although Lithuania tried to keep the pressure on them they were not able to match them in q1. Defensively, both teams were strong in q1 which was not a high scoring quarter. There were also few fouls.

Q2 was better for Lithuania as they made a massive comeback and ended q2 only 8 points behind. This was even more impressive when you consider that they only scored into double digits 2 minutes into q2.

Lithuania had more shot clock violations this evening. This seemed to be because of the strength of the Spanish defence. It is something they need to be aware of as a team, as I have seen them have problems with this is more than one game this tournament.

During the second half there were times where Lithuania started to make a comeback and it looked like the game was going to be a lot closer. Then Spain would push ahead again.

Rudy Fernandez took a terrible knock during q3 that left him on the floor for a couple of minutes. He had to be helped off the court and he could be seen receiving treatment court side before being taken off to the locker rooms. It was not a nice way for him to end the Eurobasket final.

By the end of q3 Spain had a 17 point lead and it seemed safe to start calling it their game.

During the forth Lithuania did keep the pressure on and stopped the game from getting out of hand. With about 90 seconds to go it was clear that Spain were going to win.

Some of the French fans were leaving early as the result was not going their way. This was disappointing as it was disruptive for those of us who were trying to watch the game.

Eurobasket made a big deal out of the medal ceremonies, they even had the Lithuanian president and the King of Spain present to hand out the medals.

It was nice to see Rudy Fernandez able to collect his medal as I really wasn’t sure he would be able to make it out.
  
 The Lithuanian fans were cheering their team on right to the end and the players rewarded them by going over to them at the end of the game, and after they had received their medals.
 When I left the stadium it seemed that the Lithuanian fans had decided to party anyway. There was a great atmosphere in the area outside the venue.

France v Serbia

The stadium was pretty busy for the battle for third place between France and Serbia. The crowd was fairly one sided (not surprisingly).

It was a close game during q1, both teams were strong on defence and the quarter finished with both teams on 16 points. There were several periods during q1 where neither team scored, suggesting it was gong to be a defence focused game.

France were again struggling to make use of their possessions and found themselves forcing shots with only 1 or 2 seconds left on the clock. This lead to quite a few turnovers. Equally you could explain that as Serbia being strong on defence but I noticed the same thing in France’s game against Spain.

Despite a shaky start to Q2, France were able to take a lead and keep it for the remainder of the quarter. They finished q2 ahead by 5. It was clear that Serbia were not going to accept defeat lightly and they were doing what they could to fight back.

This became the theme of the second half. There were times when it did look as though Serbia could take over. However, France maintained their composure and were able to keep a comfortable distance in points.

In the end this game was not as close as I had anticipated.

It was a good win for France though I suspect it did little to ease the hurt of the defeat to Spain.

 

Friday 18 September

A slightly delayed report of the action from Friday 18 September at Eurobasket 2015.
The day started with the classification game between Latvia and Czech Republic. This was to determine 7th and 8th slots as there are a limited number of slots available for potential qualification for the Olympics.

On paper Latvia looked like the better team and I confidently predicted that they would win.

The stadium was practically empty at the start of the game and although it did fill up a bit as the game went on there were still a considerable number of empty seats. There seemed to be only small numbers of supporters of either team present so there was little in the way of atmosphere.

In the first few minutes of the game it was pretty even between the teams but the Czech Republic quickly showed themselves to be the better team and went in to the half leading 57-36.

The third period was a slow start, the first points were scored with 8.22 left on the clock and they were the result of free throws. It wasn’t a very exciting quarter but the Czech Republic did manage to increase their lead to 36 at the end of q3.

By this point most of the fans had stopped paying attention as the result was obvious and at times it really did seem that Latvia had forgotten that the aim was to win. At one point Kiss Cam was getting more attention than the game.

With a final score of Latvia 70 Czech Republic 97, the Czech Republic secured a chance to try to qualify for the Olympics.

The main event of the evening was Serbia v Lithuania in the second semi final. The stadium was much quieter than the previous evening and there were fewer people in attendance. The Lithuanian fans did their best to keep noise levels high (I think they had 5 drums). A large group had managed to arrange to be seated together and they brought massive flags.



There seemed to be fewer Serbian fans in attendance though as they were more spread out it is hard to be certain.

They definitely tried hard to bring a good atmosphere but it did not compare to the night before. This may have been in part due to the lower attendance and the fact that for the most part there were no fans or either team around where I was sitting.

It was a very close game the whole way through, in to the last minute it was difficult to predict a winner.

Three point shots were not the strong point of either team, though Serbia did not stop trying. They made only 6 of the 28 attempted three point shots, while Lithuania made 2 of 14.

Watching the game it did feel that the fouling was uneven but the final total for the evening was 23 for Serbia and 25 for Lithuania, I am sure this is in part due to the number of fouls Serbia committed towards the end of the game as early in the game the fouls were mainly on Lithuania.

They also had a problem with shot selection that resulted in frequent shot clock violations. At several points in the game I thought that Serbia were going to do it but it just was not to be.

In the last two minutes
the tension increased as it really did seem that it could go either way, a theme of the semi finals. A foul, one that I cannot believe was planned, resulted in free throws for Lithuania and the game was over for Serbia.