One successful day of flash quoting down and I was feeling great. Anna and I headed back for our second day at Shougang, this time ready to to interview three women's teams. That's right, bring on the ladies. We got to the security checkpoint at the front of the stadium where we were supposed to pick up our new credentials. The ones at Shougang are day passes because our normal accreditation passes just apply to National Stadium. There was a different staff working this time around, so they didn't recognize us from the previous day. We tried to communicate who we were and showed our other creds. The process was not as expedited as I had hoped. A solid 15 minutes of gesturing and waiting passed while the guards talked on their two-ways before they let us in. That was extremely fun. (A bit of Ginobili-inspired sarcasm there.)
Mali was our first victim. They're led by WBNA player Hamchetou Maiga. So she was on the ONS's most wanted list for the afternoon. (Aren't you just loving my creative criminal writing style? I'm sure it's to die for.) Other than Maiga, I just wanted to find someone who spoke English. That'll probably be the case again because there aren't any translators provided for practices. I was able to speak with Jose Valentin Ruiz, Mali's coach. He gave some thoughts on the upcoming game against Croatia and on Maiga too. He called her Mali's "Nowitzki." Meanwhile Anna found Maiga aka Nowitzki while I talked to coach Ruiz. Nicely done.
After calling in our quotes, we started to think of questions for the next team scheduled to practice, Belarus. I heard a weird noise on the court while we sat in the lounge area next door. It was silence. There were no shoes squeaking, no balls bouncing, nothing. Finally I asked one of the Chinese volunteers to investigate. He came back and reported that the Belarus team had cancelled their practice. They were the bail of the day. It was pouring outside, but I don't know if that had anything to do with it.
That left us with almost three and a half hours to kill until we could interview the Brazilian team. Good thing I had a book and iPod handy. That held my interest for about an hour. By this time it was 6 p.m. One of the volunteers by the name of Zhang Bo came up to me and asked if I was hungry. Let's just say Zhang Bo and I are good friends now. He led me to the food court area where the was a small snack area set up. He let me take a few small pastries to share with Anna. When I asked to have a couple of Powerades from the fridge, he said, "The drinks are for the athletes." (Of course. What was I thinking?) I guess it was nice enough for my new buddy to get me that much. Zhang and I chatted for a bit back at the BK Lounge, BK in this case for basketball. Hey, I just thought of that now. We'll see if it sticks--probably not. Anyway, Zhang told me about where he goes to school and what he studies. He's my age by the way. Also, we talked about the Celtics and other basketball related stuff. I found out that Shougang is where the Beijing Ducks play. Pretty cool.Back to Brazil, their practice ended around 7 p.m. and I walked into the gym with Anna to get our final quotes of the day. I was able to speak with Adriana Moises, one of the players who wonderfully speaks English. After finishing the flashing of quotes, we were ready to head out. The thunderstorms had yet to subside though. Thankfully, a couple of the workers at Shougang found two umbrellas for Anna and me to borrow for the trek back to our dorms at the Communication University of China. Props to those guys. And props to you for actually reading this. Saijian.