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It's Ginobili Time! Argentina 81 - Puerto Rico 79

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We've all seen it - that look Manu gets on his face - the one that says "we are not going to lose this ball game." He got it in the third quarter against Puerto Rico, and he began to rain threes - hitting five for five from 6:50 in the third to 7:48 in the fourth. He also contributed 7 assists and a blocked shot on the way to 23 points. After the game he said it was one of the most pressure-filled games of his career: "It's comparable to a game seven of the playoffs, where you know you do not have a tomorrow. I had the chance at age 34 to play a semi-final game to go to the Olympic games at home before 9,000 people."


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And Argentina's other star, Luis Scola, got the team off to a great start, making all of his first 9 shots.


Photo from ligateunafoto,com

Highlights: Argentina Defeats Puerto Rico

Or try these highlights to get a feel for the crowd noise during the game: Argentina Defeats PR

And, highlights of the post game celebration: Celebration in Mar Del Plata

For all the heroics of Manu and Scola, Puerto Rico just refused to go away. Argentina would go up by double digits, only to look up a few minutes later to find Puerto Rico right back in the game. Barea, Arroyo, and Holland went on a bombing mission of their own, keeping pace with what Manu and Prigioni were doing at the other end.


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Andres Nocioni played in this game despite a sprained ankle. Remember last year in the World Championship he suffered a bad ankle sprain and was told by the Seventy-Sixers that he was not to play. This year Philadelphia could not say anything due to the lockout. After the game, Manu said that Chapu had "won my respect for life for what he did." He only contributed to the stat sheet with 2 rebounds, but the heart he displayed gave his team a great boost. Look at the bruising that goes 2/3 of the way up his calf - he's one tough ombre!


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I'll just let some photos tell the story of the game:


Photo from Telam


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Both teams argued calls during the game, but Arroyo and Barea of Puerto Rico did so with great drama. At one point the two coaches got into a little discussion on the sidelines.


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And when it was over, there was relief and celebration. The game ended with JJ Barea launching a long three at the buzzer to give Puerto Rico the win, but the shot hit the right side of the rim and backboard. Manu said, "When I saw Barea's shot in the air, my heart stopped."


Photo from Telam

And yes, the nose took another blow tonight, but nothing a little band aid wouldn't fix.


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I love this photo - these guys have played together since they were teenagers. And I want to cry when I think what could have been for the Spurs . . .


Photo from ligateunafoto,com'

And I leave you with another Argentine custom - ripping off the jersey and swinging it overhead. Carlos Delfino indulged in the tradition tonight, recalling the time Argentina won Olympic Gold in 2004 and the whole team engaged in the shirtless celebration.


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