Spain, the presumed Eurobasket favourites, look the class of the competition. And on arrival in Warsaw, they underlined their sense of superiority. In fact when it comes to Espana, anything less than five stars just doesn’t cut it.
That’s not a reference to their stellar line-up, which begins its conquest on Monday against Serbia, but instead to their accommodation needs. The allocated hotel for Group C is downtown, a clean, perfunctory place that is housing Great Britain, Slovenia and the Serbs.
But not the Spanish.
That’s because their advance party arrived, took one look at the facilities, and promptly decided it wasn’t grandiose enough for a team of the stature of the world champions. Hence, Pau Gasol and Co are now billeted – at the FEB’s expense – at a five-star deluxe hotel elsewhere in the city.
They have a point. The base for their three rivals teams lacks the kind of security that you’d expect at a major sporting championships. The public can come and go freely. There are coach-loads of tourists who can converse with (i.e. bother) the players. If this is the model the Polish hosts are perfecting for the 2012 European football championships, then it ain’t going to cut it for the privacy obsessed soccer squads.
It sums up Eurobasket. It’s so low key in Poland’s capital that you could have not the slightest inkling it is taking place. There are no welcome banners at the airport. No festival downtown, nor outdoor hopes proclaiming – as FIBA Europe decrees – that ‘We Are Basketball’. Only at the fairly shabby Torwar Arena is there any kind of presence. Last we checked, this wasn’t a hoops crazy country. So, you wonder, why aren’t they attempting to build interest and convert the unconverted?
One star for effort there.