So the tournament of Americas is here. Argentina is the local and the main favorite to win the whole thing and get a place in London next year.This is a grizzled team, with an average age of 32. Our "young" guy is 29 year old Delfino. These guys have played with each other their whole life. Maybe its the heat of the moment, but im feelling confident about the London olympics.
Withouth further ado, the Argentinean Roster:---Point Guards---
-Prigioni: Pablo has been one of FIBA's best distributors for several years. His game lacks any flashinees, even his passes are precise but dull. But dont be fooled, Pablo is a real surgeon of the game. Every move is calculated, and you can count on him not making any mistakes. His Pick and Roll/Pop chemistry with Scola is off the charts, one of the best duos in the world at it. Dont expect Prigioni to attack the rim much, he'll go entire games withouth doing it. His points came almost entirely from the three point land, where he is always a 40-45% shooter on international tournaments. Defensively he can be a pest, even if he has lost some quickness with the years.He is esentially a role player, but one of the most effective ones you'll ever find.
-Pepe Sanchez: this one surprised me. Pepe is very long in the tooth and he was retired from the national team. But the lack of development from the younger argentinean guards and the feeling of going one last time with his old pals has gotten him back with Manu and Cia. Pepe is a tall point guard, one of the best passers i've seen and on his prime probably the best point guard defender in the world. Now he has lost most of his speed, but he still has all the savvy in the world to go with that good size. Having seen him play in the preparation games he remainds me a lot of a not so poor's man Jason Kidd. Much like Prigioni, he wont score much unless it is from the 3 line.
-Manu "you know who" Ginobili: Not much to say about the deity of PTR. He is looking as healthy as ever, and he is clearly happy to be back with the national team. I expect many great things from him, and an MVP is a very strong possibilty.
-Carlos Delfino: now 29, Carlos will never fullfill the prophecy of being the "next Manu". Its always unfair to put such lofty expectations on young players, but it is true that Carlos has really underachieved. He had all the tools to be a dynamic player who could get to the rim at will. Instead, he always shrunk from the moment and developed an habit of hoisting long jumpers. After all these years, that's who he is. And to be fair...he is really good at making jumpers from all over the floor. Still, Carlos best asset is his superb defense. He has great size and length, he is quick and strong and can defend ANY wing you throw at him. Its not a coincidence that he is a Skiles favorite. We could really use him on the spurs, a three and D guy with excellent ball handling and passing skills to boot.
-Paolo Quinteros: a favorite of mine. The diminutive Quinteros has a point guard body but he is strictly a shooting guard. He gives his best on defense but he is really short for the position. He will almost NEVER dribble the ball. Then why is he on the national team? Because he is one hellspawn of a shooter. He'll rain fire over oposing defenses with that quick and sweet stroke. And he'll get open, he always does. Great at playing off the ball. And he is going to be the first guy to reach the rim on a fastbreak.
-"Chapu" Nocioni: another favorite of mine. If manu is the soul of the team, Chapu is the heart. One of the fiercest players I have ever seen. He can lose his head trying to do too much in the NBA, but ion the national team he always finds the right balance. He'll get under oposing players skin, he is going to rebound like a madman at times, and he always finds ways to score even if he is not the most skilled guy around. His 3 point shot is money, specially when he is open. May see some time as a stretch 4. Another guy I wouldnt mind on a spurs uniform (im getting giddy i know :P)
-Hernan "pancho" Jasen: Nocioni watered down version. He is like Chapu after a yoga session. Solid defender and all around a good player, even if he isnt great at anything. Will always make the right pass and take smart decisions. Had a huge worlds last summer, he was key in coming back against Brazil.
-Luis Scola: another known guy around these parts. Luis is an almost 19 and 9 guy in the NBA, so its no surprise to say that he is a really good player. But it cannot be overstated how unstoppable he is on international competition. The change from NBA to FIBA helps Luis a lot, specially because he doesnt have to go against so much athletic bigs who can counter his strength and speed. He has been the best player in the whole world for the last 2 years or so. I think he even played better than Durant in the last Worlds. WIth manu, Argentina has an enviable 1-2 punch that is the main reason Argentina doesnt have much trouble scoring. Another candidate to be the MVP if his recovery from surgery is going as well as he says.
-Kammerichs: the lost barry brother. He is not really a true big, when he was younger used to play a lot at the 3. Now he plays almost all his minutes as a quick 4. Federico is the very definition of lanky and long armed, maybe our best shot blocker. He is not much of a shooter, but can hit the open long 2. Good all around player who uses his length to bother rivals. Think of him as a poor man's Andrei Kirilenko.
-Fabricio Oberto: Another guy who surprised me by going back to the national team. He still is getting into game shape after being out of the game for 9 months. With Oberto the last years has always been the same guy, the player you saw start for the 2007 Spurs that won the championship: high IQ role player, excellent one on one defender, will get a lot of offensive rebounds by tipping the ball volley ball style to the backcourt, incredible passer and will hide around the basket area to get open for easy layups. The poster child for intangibles guy.
-Juan Gutierrez: our lame attempt at a "atlhetic seven footer": He is not very athletic, at least not for NBA standards. A guy who knows his limitations, will try to protect the rim with his length. Has some decent moves around the rim but dont expect much from him, he is going to be one of the last options on the floor most of the time. Can hit the midrange shot sometimes.
-Martin Leiva: oh my oh my!!! I wanted this to happen for all the wrong reasons. I have to say, Martin Leiva is probably a better version of Juan Gutierrez, a fierce guy on the boards and a guy who always finds a way to score around the rim. I think he is the tallest guy on the team, and he can really help when he is not asked to do too much on offense. BUt the reason I wanted him on the tourney is because of his free throws.... Shaq? BEn Wallace? Howard? Bowen? Those guys are Steve Nash in comparison of Leiva. Hear this: MARTIN LEIVA SHOOTS FREE THROWS WITH ONE HAND. Yep he does...and even with one hand his form is the worst thing to happen to human existence. He is like , I dont know, a 15% free throw shooter.....Ive only saw him made one with the national team. Fortunately, he is the 12th guy on the team and wont see much time unless its garbage time.
So there you have it, all 12 argentinean players that will play for a spot in London. Oberto and Delfino will probably miss the first game because they are recovering from minor injuries. When those two are back, I think the starting lineup is going to be Prigioni-Manu-Delfino-Chapu and Scola. Yes, Smallball because there are not many imposing players in the Americas tournament. Argentina will probably use a 10 man rotation, with Kammerichs and Leiva playing for scraps here and there.
BONUS EXTRA: Manu of course is prohibited to talk with Popovich. But in a recent twitcam he said that a "friend of a friend of a friend of a friend" (wink wink) told him there was a little tiny chance that Gregg Popovich would attend the FIBA americas tournament.