Roman Skvortsov's Blog: Paparazzi Dream

 Shaking off writer's rust is an enjoyable, easy experience in Riga: the atmosphere of the Old City; the quirky, winding streets providing inspiration for an engrossing plot. Given the environment, even a standard regular-season game between two clubs not in playoff contention (at least for now) promised adventure, motivating me to sacrifice the simple pleasures of home and hop on an airplane.

Riga welcomes me with a light snowfall. An outgoing taxi driver, with the delightful name of Santa Maria Theresa, is amazed at my lack of interest in exploring the city by foot. She looks at the weather app on her phone and confidently informs me that the snow will end in an hour.

- Do you operate a taxi-plane? Why the need for such a powerful weather station?
- Well, it's nice to know when to wash my car, for example.
- No matter when you wash it, it always starts to rain five minutes later...

The snow abruptly stopped 58 minutes later, as if flipped off by a switch. Not a bad app. I'll have to download it myself.

Unfortunately, humanity has yet to invent a device that could accurately predict the appearance of Krasny Oktyabr's player-president at a game. As a result, there was plenty of anxiety over the fate of our Inside The Game feature. Of course, we had a backup option, but when this is the response you get after proposing the idea: "Romych, have you lost your mind?! You won't BELIEVE the stuff I'll say... But whatever, let's risk it" settling for anything else does not seem very enticing.

To our great relief, Dmitry Gerasimenko flew to the game vs. VEF and immediately invited our cameramen into the locker room an hour before tip-off! Paparazzi can only dream of such transparency...

We didn't manage to mic up the player-president immediately. "I have to warm up!" - he said, and started by shooting 3-pointers with Alexey Zozulin. He went on to discuss strategy with Oktyabr's foreign players, chatted with one of VEF's young stars and talked tactics with the coaching staff... Our film crew couldn't believe it wasn't getting anything on tape.

With 15 minutes to go, our crew finally managed to turn Gerasimenko into an undercover agent with the help of the team doctor.

- I'm not violating the Regulations? - inquired Dmitry.

The league's deputy general director Alexander Fedotov frowned, but gave the go-ahead.

At first, it seemed like we had gone overboard with the microphone. Gerasimenko's booming voice could be easily heard over the VEF fans. You could even hear his thoughts on several officiating decisions from the concession stand.

Soon enough, we got another scare. Dmitry entered the game, barging on the court, bedangled with expensive equipment. Fortunately, the doctor had been generous with his bandages, creating a reliable protective coccoon for the equipment. Sitting at the press table, we could only guess at what was happening on air, but the happy smile of the audio operator made it clear that the in-game experience was going extremely well.

You'll be able to see for yourself how it turned out in the newest episode of Inside The Game, which will be released soon.

As far as the game itself in Riga, I don't think Gerasimenko and Krasny Oktyabr can blame the VTB United League film crew for any bad luck. Trailing by 25 points in the 3rd quarter, Volgograd pulled off a miracle, storming back to win in the final seconds. The club's player-president (who had one field goal in the game) was ecstatic, in sharp contrast to Riga's adorable Panda mascot. 

Roman Skvortsov,
Match TV commentator