Victorious Argentines happy to have day off

By Mike Monroe

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina — Manu Ginobili’s long march through the second round of the FIBA Americas Olympic qualifying tournament here is over, and just in time.

Playing on tired legs after four games in four days, the Spurs guard had 17 points and five assists as Argentina scored a 84-58 victory over the Dominican Republic on the final day of the second phase of a tournament that is as much marathon as test of basketball skills.

Each team played four games in five days in the first round. After a single day off, the second round required four games in four days.

There are no games today, and few players are more grateful than Ginobili.

“For our team it is important,” said Ginobili. “For me it is huge. I am not used to playing back-to-back-to-back-to-back. I was exhausted and had no legs at all, as you could tell.

“I’m just glad that we were able to extend our lead (early in the fourth quarter) while I was on the bench so I didn’t have to play 35 minutes.”

Up by nine entering the fourth period, Argentina’s Carlos Delfino scored eight unanswered points in the first 1:40 of the period to give his team some breathing space.

“We are a 32-year-old average team, so we can use the day off,” said Rockets forward Luis Scola. “Saturday, for sure, everybody will be ready to go.”

Brazil’s 94-72 victory over Puerto Rico on Thursday earned top seed in the semifinals, meaning it will face the Dominicans. Argentina will play Puerto Rico. Spurs center Tiago Splitter scored 17 points in three quarters of an easy victory, and sat the fourth period.

The winners of Saturday’s games will be assured berths in the 2012 Olympics in London, regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s championship game.

Canada’s quest for an Olympic berth ended Thursday when Denver Nuggets guard Gary Forbes, playing for Panama, scored 39 points to lead his team to its only victory of the second round, 91-89.

Canada, with Spurs draftee Cory Joseph scoring four points, needed a victory and a loss by Venezuela to finish fifth in the tournament and advance to next summer’s play-in tournament.

“I just wanted to play this one loose and do what I could do get a victory for our team in this round,” said Forbes, who made eight of 13 3-point shots. “We had to take this victory back to our country.”

Leave a Reply