With only five players remaining from the 2014 championship run on their roster, there are plenty of fresh faces at Spurs training camp. This includes rookies Patricio Garino and Nicolas Laprovittola, who are joining fellow countryman Manu Ginobili for the start of what could be his final NBA campaign. Garino and Laprovittola were by Ginobili’s side this summer in Rio representing Argentina, and both are battling for a permanent roster spot with the Spurs in what Manu has described as “invasion Argentina.”
“Last time it happened it was with [Fabricio] Oberto, in ’05,” said Ginobili at training camp, describing the presence of his Olympic teammates. “So it’s been a while since I had the opportunity to welcome an Argentinian to the team. So it’s great. I appreciate them both. We spent two months together. I knew Nico from before. So it’s great to have this opportunity to show them around, to share also the Spurs experience and the NBA experience with them. They are thrilled to be here for sure so I’m just gonna try to help them as much as I can.”
The Spurs signed Garino to a two-year partially guaranteed contract back in July and early indications suggest that he could spend time with D-League Spurs in Austin if he is unable to crack the roster. At 6’6”, with a decent shooting stroke, Garino is a solid defender who is still adjusting to NBA speed. He averaged 6 points per game in Olympic competition, while generally guarding the opposition’s toughest wing.
Laprovittola’s reliable performance in Rio, where he contributed 8 points per contest, earned him a training camp deal with the Spurs. A traditional point guard with a nice touch, Laprovittola is facing stiff competition to make the team with Ryan Arcidiancono, Bryn Forbes, and Dejounte Murray all vying for backcourt minutes.
“They have to work very hard to be able to play at this level but they are two players that have a lot of talent and a lot of determination to be able to get to a spot in the NBA,” said Ginobili in his native tongue. “I have no doubt. They are distinct players. One is fundamentally more creative, more talented. The other is a workhorse, tireless, a great defender with a good shot.”
Following their preseason loss to the Suns this week, Laprovittola earned praise from Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich after demonstrating his ability to run the offense in a starting role. Laprovittola finished with 6 points, 4 assists, and 2 rebounds, while Garino struggled to make an impact on the game.
Se viene una pretemporada interesante en San Antonio! 🇦🇷🇦🇷🇦🇷
Saturday night’s preseason home opener against the Atlanta Hawks gives Spurs enthusiasts their first opportunity to witness “invasion Argentina” firsthand. For Garino and Laprovittola, it represents another opportunity to take the court with an Argentinian icon and showcase their own skills. The conversations in Spanish are a bonus.
“The two of them are good players and I believe that they are going to stay in the NBA, hopefully with this team,” admitted Ginobili. “If not with this team, with another, but the truth is that I wish them the best because they are good guys, hard workers, and I am truly happy they are here.”
Spurs vs.Hawks Saturday, October 8, $19-$1,500, 7:30 pm, AT&T Center, One AT&T Center,(210) 444-5000, attcenter.com