Kaunas is in green, lietuvos Rytas in red.
First, let me explain the title of this entry. 'Krepsinis' is the Lithuanian word for basketball. In Lithuanian, baseball is 'beisbolas', soccer is 'footbolas' (like english 'football), table tennis translates directly as do most other sports.....but basketball is 'krepsinis,' pronounced 'Crap-Sheen-is.'
Back in March Donatas and I made a deal that I would buy him a pair of new Easton batting gloves in exchange for tickets to the Lithuanian Basketball Championship between Lietuvos Rytas of Vilnius and Kaunas Zalgiris. I came through on my end of the bargain, and so did Donatas….he got tickets for game five of the series in Kaunas. The tickets for the game cost 45 Litas, which is less than 20 dollars. Can you imagine? Twenty bucks for tickets to the NBA finals?? And needless to say this was just as exciting.
The game was about two weeks ago and instead of trying to write a narrative, I will simply include some thoughts about the scene at the game.
The rivalry between Kaunas and Vilnius is very heated, and it spans across all sports. Possibly the strongest rivalry is in basketball. Vilnius is owned by Lietuvos Rytas, the major national newspaper publication in
To the right is Tacoma Beard, an American playere. and The the right is another American named Collins.
Lithuania, and Kaunas is owned by the Mayor of Kaunas as well as a number of businessmen including Arvydas Sabonis (ex-NBA player). Vilnius has a huge megaplex stadium, and Kaunas plays in a stadium that is smaller than Cameron Indoor stadium; it seats about 6,000 people. In fact, the atmosphere inside Kaunas Stadium was about as energetic and possibly even louder than Cameron Indoor.
The scene felt very much like a basketball game in the US in many ways. There were cheerleaders, pre-game routines by both teams, music playing, fans dressed in all kinds of Kaunas memorabilia. The most popular Kaunas Zalgiris item was the scarf—at the concession stand you could buy any number of scarf styles in the green and orange colors of Kaunas Zalgiris ($12 apiece).
The Kaunas mascot was a funny-looking Viking-type warrior guy with a big, long nose, long nappy hair, warrior clothing……the team is named after the Battle of Grunwald (in Lithuanian it is called the Battle of Zalgiris) in the 1400s during the Polish-Lithuanian-Tutonic War (hence the warrior-guy mascot). There was another mascot accompanying Zalgiris, which was a dark-skinned man in dreadlocks and baggy jeans and a t-shirt that read ‘Manije.’ This
guy struck me as really funny and random—I could not figure out why during each timeout he would come out onto the court and bounce around with the mascot. Then Donatas told me that Manije is a candy bar company thata sponsors the Kaunas team.
The cheerleaders were much like cheerleaders in the US-stereotypically beautiful, scantily clad, bouncing around the court in an effort to hold the attention of the spectators during pauses in the game. Most timeouts they would come out and do a dance to a hip-hop song, something like what one sees at a game in the US, but a few times they came out onto the court in traditional Lithuanian folk dresses and did a folk dance. In fact it appeared to be a sort of fusion between Lithuanian folk dance and hip hop.
At halftime the guys I came with got up to go to the bathroom, and so did everyone else in the stadium. It was truly striking, something unlike halftimes at a game in the US. In a packed stadium, at least half of the spectators emptied their seat to go pee. I attribute this to the large amounts of beer
folk dance with a twist
I dont think full splits were originally a part of this folk dance.
to the left is the Zalgiris mascot along with the Manije Chocolate Bar guy.
being consumed during the game (did I mention that beer at the game was a buck-fifty a pint?).
The team benches were like those at soccer stadiums, with the plastic roof on them and situated behind a wall like in hockey.
The jerseys of both teams had lots of ads on them, like NASCAR racecars.
Six players on the Kaunas team are Kaunas-born and raised. They are all young, like 20 and 21 years old. One of them went to school and played with Donatas and his friend. In contrast, Vilnius has only one or two players from that city.
Towards the end of the game the crazy section of fans started throwing paper onto the court. One roll of paper hit the Vilnius coach, who is not Lithuanian (Serbian), and he flipped. He grabbed the wad of paper and threw it across the court, stomping his feet and flailing his arms.
Tot: 0.718s; Tpl: 0.049s; cc: 8; qc: 65; dbt: 0.0371s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 2;
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