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The Unicaja basketball team celebrating victory. SUR
Basket case

Basket case

I found myself cheering enthusiastically every time Unicaja were given the benefit of the not inconsiderable doubt and yelling 'Claro!' as if it was quite clear to me what was going on

Peter Edgerton / www.peteredgerton.com

Friday, 24 February 2023, 13:45

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Hats off, then, to the Malaga basketball team, Unicaja, who won the prestigious Copa del Rey last weekend, beating Tenerife in the final having seen off both Barcelona and the favourites, Real Madrid, en route to Sunday's climax.

We showed the big game down at the pub and I felt that it was a good chance to get myself acquainted with a sport that I'd assiduously avoided ever since Mr Smith, our school PE teacher, decided that I must possess the skills of a Harlem Globetrotter simply because I was half-decent at football. He thrust me into a district basketball match with little or no preparation against some of the tallest teenagers in Western Christendom, subsequently leaving me with a lifelong urge to assume the foetal position any time I'm in the presence of anyone mildly lanky. Anyway, enough of my childhood traumas, let's get back to Sunday's game.

First, the rules. Frankly, I'm not sure anyone understands them, least of all any of the approximately thirty-eight referees (umpires?) who appear to officiate every game. As far as I can tell, a whistle is blown at random intervals and then a ref who's been outshone by his thirty-seven colleagues until now, points at a scuffle/jump/clash and decides who gets a free throw by means of a quick game of one potato, two potato. Still, I found myself cheering enthusiastically every time Unicaja were given the benefit of the not inconsiderable doubt and yelling 'Claro!' as if it was quite clear to me what was going on. I secretly suspect everyone present was employing exactly the same tactic.

Next, the length of the game. I asked various people how long it would last, so I could organise the post-match quiz with minimum fuss. They each looked at me as if requested a studied synopsis of Stephen Hawking's A Brief History Of Time and its relevance to string theory in modern-day life. They then sighed heavily and tried to explain why it could be anything up to a fortnight depending on the one potato, two potato skills of the referees, whose ranks may or may not increase exponentially during the game. Apparently, a minute could last a week and a week could last a decade. At least the pandemic had prepared us psychologically for that. Small mercies.

In the event, the whole thing was over in a reasonable time-frame and we all stomped and cheered at the final whistle. I yelled 'Claro!' a couple more times for good measure and most people stuck around for the quiz in a state of mild euphoria.

«Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Thank you all for coming. First question - what the hell just happened there?»

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