Battle in Istanbul

September 13, 2010

basketball woes

Basketball woes

Last Saturday, there was a lot of excitement at my house. We had reserved the afternoon so there would be no interruptions. My children, in different parts of the country, were all in battle mode.

Serbia was playing Turkey in the semi-finals at the world basketball championships in Istanbul.

If you are unfamiliar with the long and violent history of the Balkans, there is only one thing you need to know – Serbia (together with the surrounding neighborhood) was subjugated to the Turkish Ottoman empire for five hundred years. We still blame many of our woes on that painful history.

To beat the Turks in Istanbul (in basketball, of course) would be a sweet victory – it might almost avenge the bottle of Kosovo and release us from enslavement to that grievous memory.

The game started off well. The Serbian team consisting mostly of young players (ten under the age of twenty three) fought bravely and led throughout the first half by almost ten points. The audience was overwhelmingly Turkish, with a very small (but loud and brave) contingent of Serbs. The Turks looked worried. The Serbs were overjoyed.

Only once or twice did the Turkish team take the lead. It seemed possible that Serbs could win, but I was taking nothing for granted. I didn’t want to jinx them by being overly confident. So, I didn’t call Mike in Boston and gloat about how well things were going.

Well, at the very, very end of the game, the Turks took the lead. And during the last five seconds, they won by one point.

One point!

One point and that sweet sense of victory eluded us again.

The Turks in Istanbul celebrated with the unrestrained joy of tribal ecstasy. At my house, it was very quiet. The kids didn’t call. Jeff and I said nothing to each other. I turned my face to the wall, and I cried.

I have grown up in a society that idealizes pain and suffering. The path to true wisdom is strewn with thorns. But really, I am starting to wonder if there can be such a thing as too much of pain-infused wisdom.

To put it plainly, sometimes I just want my team to win.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Alexander September 15, 2010 at 6:13 am

I’m not that huge sports fan, but I can feel emotions through the words in this article. And it seems that game wasn’t quite fair, hmm? http://www.ballineurope.com/countries/turkey/fiba-world-championship-turkey-serbia-kerem-tunceri-blown-call-7309/

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karl Haudbourg September 14, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Hi Liliana. Just put up a blog post about it. Serbia deserved to be in the finals. Serbia was just robbed of final spot by referee. http://www.ambassador-serbia.com/2010/09/15/serbia-deserved-to-be-in-the-finals-2010-fiba-world-championships/

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Alexander September 15, 2010 at 10:57 am

Lol.. it seems our comments were approved at the same moment @Karl, even though you placed yours a day earlier. It’s indeed the same link I followed from your blog. Cheers!

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Liliana September 15, 2010 at 11:13 am

Thanks, gentlemen, for your comments. Best to you both.

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Martha September 13, 2010 at 6:55 pm

I feel your pain, Liliana, but at least you can take heart that your other team–the University of Michigan football team–pulled out a win in the final minutes of their game on Saturday!

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Liliana September 14, 2010 at 7:02 am

You are right, Martha, so right. Most of the time there is something to celebrate – one just needs to know where to look. Or have friends to remind us!

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