During Argentina’s rugged 90-82 win against Croatia on Tuesday night Manu Ginobili’s veteran influence was in full view both on and off the hardwood. The eldest baller at these Olympic games notched 13 points in 19 minutes, serving as a closer for his South American squad. When he wasn’t on the floor, Ginobili echoed Argentina’s head coach Sergio Hernández during timeouts, reinforcing offensive and defensive strategies in his native tongue.
After a tough loss to undefeated Lithuania on Thursday evening, Argentina is now 2-1 in the preliminary round. Former Spurs draft pick Luis Scola has carried the load for El Alma Argentina and recent free agent signing Pato Garino has shown glimpses of NBA potential in a reserve role. Ginobili and company square off against Brazil this weekend in what should be a fierce battle between long-time rivals.
The surprise of the tournament thus far has been Patty Mills and the Boomers who nearly upset Team USA on Wednesday. Mills is once again leading all scorers at the Olympics with a scorching 26 points per game, to pace Australia’s fluid offense. With four NBA champions on their roster, including former Spur Aron Baynes, the Boomers look primed to take home a medal for the first time in their nation’s hoops history.
Pau Gasol and the Spaniards secured their first win in Rio on Thursday against Nigeria. Spain faltered in its two previous contests, when Gasol suffered a key block on a game-winning field goal attempt against Croatia, and missed a pair of crucial crunch-time free throws in an upset by Brazil. La Roja has looked out of sorts in group play and end-of-game adjustments appear necessary for Spain to reach the quarterfinals.
Coming into these games, Tony Parker and Les Bleus were general regarded as the best candidate to challenge Team USA. After an opening loss to Australia, the French squad responded with two straight victories. Former Spur Nando De Colo is leading Les Bleus in scoring, with Parker a close second. France’s NBA contingent must elevate its collective game to have any kind of shot against the awakened Americans on Sunday afternoon.