(8) Nepal vs. (13) Borobudur
The Indonesian stupas have been pushing their luck for the first two rounds. In what was more the result of stumbling opponents than a sustained effort by this Buddhist temple of pilgrimage, Borobudur has stumbled into these regional semifinals to face, quite literally, the land of their father. In the original Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader math-up, Buddhists cannot face up to the fact that Hindus “are their fathers.” That impossible!!!! screams a young Indonesian monk. Oh, the humanity. The home of the most reverential Hindu temple - Pashupatinath temple – thrashes their son in an old time father beats son match-up. This semifinal is simple a no contest; were there a mercy rule, they would have enforced it at half time. Nepal sits their number one player, Everest, resting him for the finals, as the Hindu deities have their way with Borobudur. Shiva in particular lives up to his moniker – destroyer of worlds – as he scores a triple double.
(15) Potala Palace, Tibet vs. (3) Istanbul
The late game is much closer. The Cinderella of the tournament – the Dalai Lama’s own home – goes up against the majesty of the Turkish capital. Could Cinderella really schmooze her way into the Elite 8 and an appearance in the Regional Final? The answer, unfortunately for all you odd-makers out there, is no. In a heated contest that comes right down to the wire, this one is decided by, of all things, honey. You see, Tibetans are quite fond of honey tea. Turks, for their part, gave us baklava. In a battle of nature’s sweets, baklava comes off the bench to literally crush its counterpart from the Top of the World. After the game, the Dalai Lama had this to say “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” No word on how this related to the game at hand, but this reporter did find some irony in the statement, as I witnessed the Dalai Lama throwing a chair onto the court, Bobby Knight style, when a referee issued a foul to a Tibetan guard late in the game.