Argentina insures Ginobili’s contract

The celebrations keep on coming for Manu Ginobili.

After turning 34 on Thursday, the Spurs guard reveled Friday in the news that he would be able to represent his native Argentina in the FIBA Americas Olympic qualifying tournament in his homeland next month.

The Argentine Basketball Federation negotiated a deal to insure the contracts of the four NBA players on the nation’s national team. The news turned out to be one of the better birthday gifts ever received by the Spurs All-Star guard.

Ginobili and Luis Scola (Houston Rockets), Carlos Delfino (Milwaukee Bucks) and Andres Nocioni (Philadelphia 76ers) had traveled to Buenos Aires for the first day of the Argentine team’s training camp, but were uncertain when they’d be able to take the court. One report indicated all four players remained on the sidelines during the opening session. The tournament will be held Aug. 28-Sept. 11 in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

A Friday morning announcement by Argentine Basketball Federation president German Vaccaro, on the FIBA Americas official website, ended the suspense. An Argentine insurance company had agreed to become a sponsor of the national team and provide the insurance.

The insurance issue was complicated by the NBA’s lockout of its players following expiration of its collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union. Insurance typically provided by NBA teams for its players participating in FIBA-sanctioned competitions no longer was available, putting a much greater financial burden on the national federations.

Vaccaro spent most of July searching for an insurance solution for the four NBA players who make up the core of Argentina’s team. He said arrangements with Sancor, the insurance company sponsoring the federation, will be finalized next week.

“At this moment, I am just very happy to have managed this,” he told “It has been a very exhausting process of endless meetings, moments of uncertainty and some disappointments. But, as I said at the outset, we will send the best team possible to Mar del Plata.”

Ginobili reacted to the news by posting this on Twitter, albeit in a truncated version: “Today Argentina national team’s training camp starts in Buenos Aires. Very happy to play with El Chapu (Nocioni), Scola, (Fabricio) Oberto, Delfino and the whole team again.”

Oberto, who played four seasons for the Spurs and was the starting center on the team that won the 2007 NBA championship, had retired from basketball because of a cardiac arrhythmia problem. He was medically cleared to return to the Argentine team on July 1.

Spurs center Tiago Splitter is on the roster of the Brazilian team that will play in the tournament, but there has been no announcement yet about insuring his NBA contract, or those of other NBA players on the Brazilian roster.

The French national team already has secured insurance for its NBA players, including Spurs starting point guard Tony Parker.

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