After taking it relatively easy the last two nights, BiE’s editor was fearlessly back on the beer on Saturday at the Euroleague Final Four.
The best bar conversations are the ones where you solve all the problems on one broad issue. Tonight we fixed European and NCAA basketball, you’re welcome. The day however began with that most important ritual, meeting an Irish person.
Friday had been nuts. Let’s not dance around that. After a couple of fun games in Magarinos, there was nothing but theatre at the big show. Spanoulis doing his thing, Madrid running riot, and aircon seemingly failing only for us to realise that nope we had just been sprinting everywhere to get everything done. The beers on Friday were fun with great company, it’s hard to go wrong when you’ve got a Balkan talking hoops in your troupe, but we were just dead. A good night’s rest put me in a better state for the task at hand today.
Alejandro and Ana, my hosts here in Madrid, love their sleep as much as I love a rauchbier. The last couple of nights involved being Elmer Fudd levels of quiet upon returning to their apartment after disturbing them during the power cut that interrupted the last of these columns. Fortunately they were back onside before I hit the road to meet Joe, an Irish tech entrepreneur, for a few in Calle Goya 88.
Despite both our day jobs being in tech, Joe knows me due to my beer writing. He is passionate about the few breweries in Spain trying to be a little different. I can drink a jarra with any man in this heat and not really worry about what I’m consuming but even here I crave something with a little more. Estrella Galicia’s 1906 was on tap and we shared war stories over two or three before I got my actual work for BiE done today.
Back in the press centre, the media game was being broadcast. I won’t comment on the calibre of play but that’s only because of my own sloppy shooting technique. With the day’s work done, it was time to go about ensuring hoops fans got the drunk column they demand from this site.
El Tigre was a hell of a place to start. Unaccustomed as I am to standing. when the beer is that cheap and the food is plentiful I will happily make an exception. Sam, who joined me on so many of my drunkventures at the World Cup, led the way and we were joined by his Euroleague Adventures cohort Rob Scott and Austin of Los Crossovers.
While standing and eating was fun, the fate of this very sport depended on our discussions over the next few hours.
We retired to an outdoor spot somewhere away from Gran Via, I don’t know Madrid and I needed to be told what the Spanish for three was (it’s tres) ordering beers so don’t look here for that level of insight. There we worked out that geoblocking streams is a pox upon European basketball and that 30 seconds is bull, the NCAA needs to go all the way to 24.
The atmosphere in this city really makes for an easy time on a night out. Having paid €4.80 for a round of drinks on Friday night, I had asked Joe earlier in the day how on earth these bars and cafés make money. Frankly, I don’t want to know the economics but long may it continue.
As the four of us sat there the lack of humidity and natural warmth made for the ideal setting to kick back before the big business tomorrow and I’m not just talking about the evening’s activities. Championship day, at pretty much every tournament I have witnessed, is always the least stressful. There is work to be done but not with the same crammed situation as in the days prior. The final of the Adidas NGT promises to be a great event, with defending champions Crvena Zvezda taking on an impressive looking Real Madrid team with Luka Doncic looking like a grown ass man despite having barely turned 16.
From there business will take me to the fan zone to do pieces for The Ballin After before I fulfil a promise I made while drunk on Tuesday night. I have a friend from New York who travels as much as I do. I say this knowing I will be in London barely 48 hours after I leave Madrid and Copenhagen a few weeks later. It’s a great way to earn a living but Jayme, despite having a schedule that flies her farther than me, hasn’t been to Madrid. Once I wrap up at the fanzone and before the main event in the Barclaycard Centre, I’m heading to Plaza Mayor to sip a glass of Rioja.