Ginobili’s aggressive play fuels victory

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina — Eric Musselman, head coach of Venezuela’s team in the FIBA Americas pre-Olympic qualifying tournament, served three seasons as an NBA coach — two with the Warriors and one with the Kings.

So when the play near the end of the first half of Tuesday’s Argentina-Venezuela game turned extremely physical, Musselman knew what to expect from Spurs star Manu Ginobili, who is leading Argentina in a competition that will qualify two teams for the 2012 Olympics in London.

“He’s just an amazing player, and the more competitive the game is, the more he seems to have an impact,” Musselman said. “He’s a competitive guy who just has a knack for making huge shots at inopportune times for the opposition.”

Musselman lamented a pair of back-to-back 3-pointers Ginobili made in the second quarter of Argentina’s 111-93 victory at Malvinas Argentinas Arena.

His team had just scored eight unanswered points to pull within six of the tournament’s only undefeated team, at 38-32, with halftime approaching.

Ginobili, more aggressive on offense than at any time in the tournament, made back-to-back 3-pointers, followed with a slick pass to Luis Scola for a shot that turned into a pair of made foul shots, and another assist to Pablo Prigioni for another 3-pointer.

Ginobili made 10 of 14 shots, including 6 of 8 from 3-point range, and finished with a game-high 26 points.

Two of the three Spurs players in the tournament will continue into the tournament semifinals, which already are set before the final two days of the second preliminary round.

Argentina and Tiago Splitter’s Brazilian team, a 90-65 victor over Panama on Tuesday, have advanced to the semifinals, along with Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

Splitter scored three points, grabbed three rebounds and had three assists in Brazil’s easy win that clinched its spot in the semifinals.

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