Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Others




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:

Point Guards:
Juan 'Pepe' SÁNCHEZ (Unicaja, Spain)
Pablo PRIGIONI (Tau Cerámica, Spain)
Daniel FARABELLO (Varese, Italy)

Shooting Guards:
Emanuel GINÓBILI (San Antonio Spurs, USA)
Carlos DELFINO (Detroit Pistons, USA)

Small Forwards:
Andrés NOCIONI (Chicago Bulls, USA)
Walter HERRMANN (Unicaja, Spain).


Power Forwards:
Luis SCOLA (Tau Cerámica, Spain)
Leonardo GUTIÉRREZ (Ben Hur, Argentina)
Gabriel FERNÁNDEZ (Varese, Italy).


Centers:
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:

France (19/8)
Lebanon (20/8)
Venezuela (21/8)
Nigeria (23/8)
Serbia & Montenegro (24/8)


All these matches will be played in the city of Sendai.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Seba,

I truly believes in this team that they can become champion. Remember that in Athens two years ago, Delfino and Nocioni have not yet been drafted into an NBA team. Now they have two years of valuable experience playing in the biggest basketball league in the world. There was a time I remember that players from Europe become hot demand in the NBA but from what I see, our tall heroes are getting more attention these days with the likes of Luis Scola already touted as a future NBA stars.

Furthermore look at the number of Argies plying their trade in the Spanish ACB league, which I guess is the best league in Europe. Perhaps is time that basketball gets the recognition it deserves in Argentina.

By the way, for those who wish a complete coverage of basketball from all over the world, please log on www.eurobasket.com. Anything information pertaining to this game can be viewed. Infact it seems they are looking for a correspondent on Argentinian Basketball. Seba, I believe you are the right person for this.

But still I'm pretty worried. Remember we are going to Japan, 4 years ago our football team when there with the same hype and look what happen. I pray for this not to be repeated. And maybe this triumph will erase that bad memory.

Vamos Argentina!!!

John
Malaysia

Seba said...

Spot on John! And thank you for the link and your words about me. I'll find out about what they are looking for.

Tomorrow night, Argentina is playing against New Zealand in the only friendly match in Buenos Aires before the World Championships. I tried to get tickets for that but they have NBA prices!!!

Will see if I can find one anyway because I'd love to see MANU, CHAPU (NOCIONI) and the rest in action in front of my eyes!

Anonymous said...

Seba,

Hopefully you'll be watching the game on tv at least. I'll bet you it must be a cracker. I've seen the the TALL BLACKS (NZ) before, not a bad team at all. Check out Pero Cameroon especially,arguably one of the most consistent 3 pointer in the game.

John
Malaysia

Joey said...

I can't help laughing when I read this article!

Well, I think you all know China is a true sporting power. We won 32 gold medals in Athens, and we have hundreds of world champions.

At the same time, we have a horrible soccer team. They play terribly and always lose. They rank #90 in FIFA ranking.

Still, they are the highest paid athletes in China and they are very much the darling of the media. Those world champions couldn't compete with those very bad soccer players in money, reputation, or anything else.

I guess this is just the attraction of soccer worldside (except in US, of course). It is not that your basket ball team is not good enough. It is simply basketball (or any other sports) can not compete with soccer.

I really enjoy watching your basketball team in the olympics. But that's it. The next time I will watch them is in Beijing 2008. I will not even think about following them and all the players, worrying about their performance (once my idol Batigol didn't score for a whole month in Italy serial A and I was really upset), like I do for your soccer team.

Seba said...

I've seen Pero CAMERON before. It's amazing a guy his size can play basketball! And do it so good!

It was a victory for Argentina and I watched it on TV.

The team looks really focus and they play like if it really mattered.

SCOLA scored 28 points leading us to a 85-72 win over New Zealand.

Now the team is off to a tour in Spain and then they'll go to Singapore before arriving to Japan.

Anonymous said...

Seba,

Singapore!!! Is that true?? Are they playing any warm up matches there??

You gotto tell me man because it could worth a trip!!!

John
Malaysia

Seba said...

Yes, they'll be in Singapore for a friendly tournament.

Will try and be as fast as I can to give you more precise information I don't have at the moment.

Stay tunned.