FIBA Americas: Ginobili, Argentina roll over Uruguay

By Mike Monroe

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina — Spurs guard Manu Ginobili made only three baskets in Argentina’s 86-51 thumping of Uruguay on Thursday, but Spurs fans will be delighted to know two of them were emphatic dunks.

The spring appears to be back in Ginobili’s legs, even after a hard, month-long training camp.

“I’m feeling great,” Ginobili said. “The team is doing good. We had a long month of training camp where we practice twice a day almost every day. I am feeling good and in great shape.

“The team is rolling, so I have no complaints.”

All three Spurs-connected players in the event were in action on the second day of the FIBA Americas tournament, which will qualify the top two teams for the 2012 Olympics in London. Center Tiago Splitter helped Brazil hang on for a 69-57 victory over Canada, with Spurs draftee Cory Joseph playing 24 minutes for Team Canada.

Splitter scored only five points, but had 10 rebounds and three assists.

Joseph made 4 of 10 shots and scored eight points, with two assists.

Ginobili’s presence was needed in Argentina’s victory for only 16 minutes and 17 seconds Thursday, but he used them efficiently. The two-time NBA All-Star had seven points, two rebounds, two steals and two assists.

The fun of playing on his national team, Ginobili said, is in the passing.

“I am having a lot of fun setting up my teammates,” he said. “Especially against these kind of teams, you don’t need to score 20 or 30 points. We have enormous talents, especially offensively. Sometimes I’m playing with players, like (Andres) Nocioni, who are great scorers. If I find them open, they’re going to finish, so I’m enjoying it.

“There is no better team, and everybody on our team is feeling good about themselves.”

Houston Rockets big man Luis Scola scored 18 points to lead the Argentines.

Splitter said Brazil’s two close encounters should steel the team for the elimination round beginning Sept. 5.

“The two close games we didn’t expect, but we know that now is the time to play,” he said. “Now the games really matter, but I think today we figured out how to defend better. That is our key. Coach (Ruben) Magnano wants us to have good defense and then run the fast break.”

The Dominican Republic, coached by Kentucky’s John Calipari, also improved to 2-0 as did Brazil and Puerto Rico.

Al Horford, who plays for the Atlanta Hawks, had 19 points for the Dominican Republic in a 92-89 win over Venezuela.

At the European Championship, Spurs guard Tony Parker had 31 points Wednesday to help France beat Latvia 89-78 in Siauliai, Lithuania.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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