Filling My Basket With Sport In La Laguna

So there I was in my little orange press bib realizing that the pretty young cheerleaders were the only others in the cold arena exposing their legs. There are still big gaps in my Tenerife tapestry of sport but I hope to eventually fill them and writing for The Tenerife Weekly gives me a push to sample new delights. CB Canarias basketball team are having a great season back in Spain’s elite ACB League and with a Sunday morning game not clashing with football I was pleased to be able to check them out with friends Barnet Dave and Annie.

My flimsy knowledge of the sport is based on a few trips to see Oxford Devils when their Brookes University sports centre distracted me with subsidised student priced Hobgoblin real ale, and one game at Thames Valley Tigers in Bracknell. The Pabellon Santiago Martin stands high and proud in the coldest part of La Laguna, the nearby north airport seems to be always shrouded in cloud. Known locally as the hamburguesa the stadium also houses concerts and the basketball has been pulling in 4,000 plus crowds. My friends sorted out their tickets while I took the press entrance and despite the chill in the high domed interior I was given a warm welcome and was led down to courtside. I was bobbing between mobile tv cameras, photographers, and assorted stewards and even a few police. A large cashew nut in a yellow cap was walking around giving out bags of his or her offspring and it posed with the cheerleaders, how depressing to know that even a cashew nut is getting more female attention than I am. The atmosphere in the stadium was strong and passionate, one of several peñas (fan clubs) filled a section behind me and the chanting and singing were fan led without too much prompting by the announcer or scoreboard.

It did feel strange being among so many yellow fans, thankfully not pios, but many of the songs were familiar from football although without the insults. The game was fast and skilful, CB Canarias looked a lot better than their opponents Cajasol from Seville and soon built a lead that they maintained through all four of the 10 minute quarters. Like ice hockey the clock only runs when there is action, it stops as soon as a basket is scored or there is a foul, so the 10 minutes become around 20 with a 15 minute half way break to change ends. Not all the players were giants, Nicolas Richotti is one of the best defensive players at 1.84 metres while at the other extreme Serbian Blagota Sekulic is 2.10 and built like a brick shithouse.

The final few minutes were tense as Cajasol tried to break back into the game but CB Canarias defended well and broke forward to steal a few late baskets to ensure a 77-68 win. I enjoyed the game and the crowd, in my later days of following ice hockey in the UK the big arenas coming into the sport put me off by being too corporate, too controlling, and impersonal. CB Canarias had a nice friendly atmosphere, more like the family feel I love so much at CD Tenerife. It was another bumper crowd of 4,209 and the team now stands in 13th place and should comfortably avoid relegation, the club and fans fought hard to afford the promotion place their consistent play had earned. I shall be back for more – but maybe I will cover my scrawny little legs next time.