DubNation Diary: Finland’s “Suomi” (Clap-Clap-Clap!)

BILBAO EXHIBITION CENTRE, BILBAO, SPAIN — Per Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press and confirmed on the premises by the Finns in attendance, 8,000 basketball fans from Finland — aided by Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds, and government officials, according to the report — descended on Bilbao this past week.

Although their team narrowly missed an opportunity to advance to the quarterfinals in Barcelona this upcoming week, losing to New Zealand in the final pool play game.

It was a do-or-die finale in Group C’s pool play for both teams, which resulted in New Zealand’s advancement. The Finns came close, losing a 2-point heartbreaker in overtime.

The apartment in the Indautxu district where I stayed was also temporary housing for the week for a Finnish couple, who said that most of the Finns were on their last week of summer holiday. Chartered flights and an official home base at the Hotel Ercilla, where a canopy served as the “fan zone” for Finns where one could buy paraphernalia by day and dance to a Finnish DJ’s beats by night, helped facilitate the transformation of Bilbao into mini-Helsinki.

That was both good and bad, even amid all the treasures of Bilbao.

“Coming to Spain is pretty normal for us,” said my flatmates, “but we came all this way to Bilbao to support and we see all of these Finns. So we rented a car yesterday and drove out to San Sebastian near the border of France. It was nice to get away.”

Finland’s basketball fans were mostly male and easy to spot. If they weren’t wearing a “Susijengi” basketball jersey, cap, or t-shirt, they wore their flag’s colors of blue and white.

“We all know each other through basketball somehow,” said one Finn, who once played in his country’s top professional league and now, much older, plays in the fourth division, “I recognize this guy from somewhere related to basketball in Finland, and that guy from somewhere too.”

On the court, Finland never gave up, kept running multiple screens outside for their three-point shooters, but their lack of athleticism and raw talent resulted in narrow losses to Turkey by just 4 points and the Dominican Republic by just 6.

This after an opening-round defeat to USA Basketball’s Men’s National Team (#USABMNT) by 50+.

Even easier to spot were the Finns dressed up as wolves, despite Bilbao’s 75-degree-Farenheit weather, tthe occasional spontaneous “Suomi (clap-clap-clap)!” chant — Suomi simply means “Finland” — and this Finland basketball “superhero”.

The Poor Man’s Commish is the founder of Let’s Go Warriors. Check out the Golden State Warriors fansite at http://www.letsgowarriors. Click on the following for follow the FIBA World Cup in our forum.  or Interbasket on Twitter.

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