They are less famous.
They are clearly taller.
On average, they earn less money.
And based on the latest results they’ve been getting, they are more successful.
But still, as the main character himself said it, “We, the basketball national team, will never be as popular as those who represent Argentina in football”.
Manu GINOBILI might be just about right in that concept. Basketball will never be as popular as football in Argentina, but this team is really pushing the limits and, based on talent, sacrifice and an incredible team spirit, they are slowly becoming sporting legends in this country.
When Hugo SCONOCHINI drove to the hoop with the clock ticking down the very last seconds of the Indianapolis 2002 World Championships, he was clearly fouled. It was a pretty evident foul. For everyone, except for the Greek referee who was standing in front of the action. We turned out to be on the losing side that time and it was unfair after everything that team managed to achieve.
Argentina played superbly all along that tournament and for further proof, the USA Dream Team can really say something about it. They suffered their first notorious defeat against us. Losing on home soil was to add injury to that for them and to magnify the feat for Argentina.
Fabricio OBERTO and Manu GINOBILI, both now playing for San Antonio Spurs in the NBA, said that if it wasn’t for that defeat in Indianapolis against Serbia & Montenegro in the final match, Argentina wouldn’t have had the right motivation to become Olympic Champions two years later in Athens.
That amazing campaign ranks amongst the most glorious achievement in the history of sports in Argentina. Everybody knows it’s not an easy thing to win a gold medal if you are Argentinean and doing it in basketball, when everybody will step against you knowing that they have to play their best game to beat you…that is really something.
Now the task is even more complicated. There are plenty of very strong teams going to Japan and the USA appear to have taking offense after a number of pathetic outings at the international stage. Now they are bringing the best they have and they seem to be really focused on winning again. And on the other hand, Argentina will play as the defending Olympic Champions. A tag nobody will ignore. A tag that could be very heavy to have on our shoulders.
In Argentina’s preparation for the World Championships, there have been a few friendly contests and Sergio HERNANDEZ’ men have won them all. Two against Venezuela and another one against Brazil.
Today, the manager was forced to make the decision and hand out the final roster. So far, 15 players were working with him and he needed to pick just 12.
The unlucky ones were Paolo QUINTEROS, Juan GUTIERREZ and Hernan JASEN.
Paolo QUINTEROS is a great scorer. A natural-born shooter.
Juan GUTIERREZ is a big man but he is still very young. He could be one great player in the future.
Hernan JASEN has experience in Europe but the quality of the rest of the squad really pushed him out of the World Championships.
So the 12 men who will represent Argentina starting on August 19th against France are:
Juan ‘Pepe’ SÁNCHEZ (Unicaja, Spain)
Pablo PRIGIONI (Tau Cerámica, Spain)
Daniel FARABELLO (Varese, Italy)
Emanuel GINÓBILI (San Antonio Spurs, USA)
Carlos DELFINO (Detroit Pistons, USA)
Andrés NOCIONI (Chicago Bulls, USA)
Walter HERRMANN (Unicaja, Spain).
Luis SCOLA (Tau Cerámica, Spain)
Leonardo GUTIÉRREZ (Ben Hur, Argentina)
Gabriel FERNÁNDEZ (Varese, Italy).
Fabricio OBERTO (San Antonio Spurs, USA)
Rubén WOLKOWYSKI (Khimky, Russia).
It is believed that the starting lineup to face France will be:
Juan SANCHEZ, Manu GINOBILI, Andrés NOCIONI, Luis SCOLA and Fabricio OBERTO.
Our rivals in the first stage of the tournament will be:
Serbia & Montenegro (24/8)
All these matches will be played in the city of Sendai.