Ginobili’s heart in FIBAs, mind on lockout

By Mike Monroe

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina — As Spurs guard Manu Ginobili has helped his Argentine national team qualify for the semifinals of the FIBA Americas Olympic qualifying tournament, he has kept track of two situations thousands of miles from here: the NBA lockout and teammate Tony Parker’s pursuit of an Olympic berth for his French team.

Thus far, it has been much more enjoyable for Ginobili to read about Parker’s exploits for France in the Eurobasket tournament in Lithuania than to follow the progress, or lack of, in the labor talks..

The unquestioned leader of one of the best international teams of the past dozen years, Ginobili and four of his NBA colleagues have remained focused on the competition at Malvinas Argentinas Arena while receiving details on the state of negotiations for the lockout imposed by the league on July 1.

As important as the tournament is to Ginobili, Luis Scola (Houston Rockets), Andres Nocioni (Philadelphia 76ers), Carlos Delfino (Milwaukee Bucks) and Fabricio Oberto, the lockout never is far from their thoughts in this resort town on the Atlantic coast, some 300 miles northeast of Ginobili’s hometown of Bahia Blanca.

“Of course we all pay attention to what is happening with the lockout,” Ginobili said. “We get updates. We talk about it. We are all worried. We don’t want this to happen, but we know every decade there is a chance this can happen.

“We understand it is a huge business and everyone wants to take care of their part. So we are just here now thinking about this (tournament), and once it is over, we will start to be more concerned about what is going on in the NBA.”

Ginobili expressed regret that the lockout has the potential to interrupt the love affair between San Antonians and the Spurs.

“I think it is a pity,” he said. “I am with such a wonderful organization with an amazing fan base. I’d really love to go back and start training camp and be with all the guys. Hopefully, it is a one-time thing and is not going to happen again in a few years.

“Hopefully it is just once in a blue moon. I’m just hoping for a fair solution.”

Ginobili spends some of his time between games keeping tabs on what is happening at Eurobasket, where Parker has been one of the leading scorers and has yet to suffer a loss with the French national team.

“I haven’t been able to watch the games, but I follow the stats, and I know (France) is undefeated,” Ginobili said before Argentina fell to Spurs teammate Tiago Splitter and Brazil 73-71 on Wednesday. “I know they beat Serbia in the last second. Tony is rolling.

“Good to see that France is doing what they are capable of doing. In the past, they were always a threat, but they were never able to finish it. Hopefully, this year they do.”

Ginobili for several years has touted the Olympic experience to his Spurs teammate.

“I’d really love for Tony to get to play the Olympic Games,” Ginobili said. “He’s a good friend, and any athlete of a high level should learn what it is to be in the Olympics. I told T.P. this a million times, and I think he’s really focused and wants to be there.”

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