Lockout red tape keeps Ginobili waiting

The Argentine senior men’s basketball team will begin training today in Buenos Aires in preparation for the FIBA Americas Olympic qualifying tournament, but Spurs guard Manu Ginobili’s participation remains clouded by the NBA lockout.

According to the ESPN Deportes website, the availability of Ginobili and fellow NBA players Luis Scola (Rockets), Carlos Delfino (Bucks) and Andres Nocioni (76ers) remains uncertain because the Argentine basketball federation has yet to secure insurance to cover the contracts of the NBA players.

Ordinarily, NBA teams are required to insure 80 percent of the contract of any player participating on a national team in a FIBA-sanctioned event. Because of the lockout, the entire burden of insuring the contracts falls on national federations, an expensive proposition for nations with multiple NBA participants.

German Vaccaro, president of the Argentine federation, is quoted in the ESPN Deportes article expressing confidence that the insurance, estimated to total $500,000, will be paid so the four players can join their national team for the tournament Aug. 28-Sept. 11 in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

“One way or another, we are going to solve it, and NBA players will be able to play with the team,” Vaccaro told ESPN Deportes. “If we have to pay it, we’ll pay it, but I am very optimistic.”

In an interview with the Express-News in June, Ginobili said playing in the Olympic qualifying tournament in his homeland was “very, very important.” Equally vital to the Spurs All-Star guard: the opportunity to reunite with six teammates from the team that won the Olympic gold medal in Athens in 2004.

“I know I only have this one and probably the next one to play with all my great friends on the team, Luis (Scola) and Fabri (Oberto) and (Andres) Nocioni and (Carlos) Delfino and the rest,” Ginobili said in June. “It is really exciting.”

Bogut out: Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut will spend his time during the lockout as assistant coach of the Australian national team that will face New Zealand in an Olympic qualifying series.

Bogut hoped to play for Australia in the best-of-3 series, the winner of which will qualify for the 2012 London Games. But Basketball Australia was unable to insure his multimillion dollar contract, and instead the former No. 1 NBA draft pick will assist coach Brett Brown, the Spurs’ assistant coach, on the bench.

Brown joked Thursday: “He’ll be my richest assistant coach. He’s fantastic about wanting to play, but with injury and insurance issues with the NBA lockout, he’ll play his role from the bench next to me.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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