The Argentinean National Basketball team has been a bit criticized for failing to renew it’s aging players with new talent. Truth is that, despite the fact that these guys are certainly aging, and that the average age for the Argentinean team is somewhere up in the 33-year-old range, these veteran guys are still willing to prove that they’ve got what it takes to take the gold medal away from the championship favorite, the team USA and the 2012 dream team. Yet, for a moment, before the London 2012 Summer Olympics even kicked in, many considered this team to be too old to even be considered a serious contender for a medal. Sure enough their most recent performances in the friendly matchups they played in preparation for London were not great, and that made the aging Argentinean team look weak.
So it shouldn’t come as a big surprise to see that the South American squad took this first match against Lithuania as a message board to pinch on a bold statement. The old guys are here to stay! But let’s be fair and let the recently traded to the Phoenix Suns power forward, Luis Scola put it on his own words: “I think the message is that we are old but we can play, something like that,” said Scola in the postgame press conference. Sure enough, the Argentinean squad relied heavily on a solid performance Scola, who finished the night with 32 points, while the veteran Manu Ginobili proved to be the heart and soul of this squad, signing off a brilliant 21 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assist performance to lead Argentina to a 102-79 win over Lithuania on Sunday. Carlos Delfino rounded up the Argentinean game with 20 points. This was a big rematch of their 87-75 win over Lithuania in the bronze-medal game four years ago in Beijing back in 2008. Yet this time, they are going for gold. Or at least come home with a silver medal.
Now, Manu Ginobili knows that their next matchup is going to be of utter importance. They will face France tomorrow, a team that lost it’s opening game against the Dream Team. Now, the French need a win urgently, and Tony Parker, who plays next to Manu Ginobili with the San Antonio Spurs, is going to have to prove his worth in order to get around the Argentines. The Lithuanians were able to hold on in the game and were down 24-23 after the first quarter. But soon, things were going to change for good. Argentina got on fire before the halftime break and the 3-pointers just kept on coming. They scored 27 points in the second quarter, taking a 51-39 lead into the break and they never looked back.
“We didn’t want to show nothing to nobody –Said Scola in the same interview- We weren’t playing well in the preparation. We weren’t feeling well, we got this feeling that it’s not going well, we need to do something, we’ve got to play better, we’ve got to move faster, we’ve got to have a little bit more of a spark, so we needed to have this game.” Well, they’ll have a good chance to prove their worth as they play France and Team USA in the first stage.