Despite some initially sloppy play from both France and Argentina, the first on-court matchup between Spurs All-Stars Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili lived up to Silver and Black expectations. Manu scored 26 points and was easily the best player on the hardwood, but it was Parker’s speed and steady game-management that proved the difference, lifting Les Bleus to a 71-64 upset over Argentina’s “Golden Generation.” Parker again struggled from the field at the Olympics, going 4 for 16, but still pumped in 17 point and 4 assists, the last over Manu’s outstretched arms in the game’s final minutes.
During San Antonio’s regular season Spurs fans could sense that they were witnessing a shift in the team’s hierarchy. With Ginobili once again on the mend and Tim Duncan slightly deferring, it was Parker who consistently and furiously sparked the Spurs. By mid-season, he was the team’s lone All-Star and during the playoff, he was repeatedly serenaded with chants of “MVP” eventually coming in 5th in voting for the Maurice Podoloff trophy. Tuesday’s victory in London reminded us that despite his off-court transgressions, Parker is now clearly the alpha-Spur even in full view of even Pop’s patriarchal eye.
The games continue on Thursday with France, Argentina, Brazil, and Australia seeking victory. Tiago Splitter was stellar for Brazil in his last contest, contributing 21 points and 6 boards in a tight 67-62 win over the host nation. Patty Mills was on the tough end of another loss, chipping in 11 points in a 82-70 defeat at the hands of Spain. For Spurs loyalists watching stateside, a potential Tony vs. Manu II could be the hoops highlight of the Summer.