Heading into the 2012 Olympic basketball tournament, there are the teams that are penciled in to make a serious run at a medal. Teams like the U.S., France, Argentina, and Spain are certainly going to be battling and leading the way for Team Argentina will be San Antonio Spurs' Manu Ginobili.
Ginobili will be guiding Argentina to another medal but another South American team hoping to one day be considered a basketball power house is Venezuela.
Venezuela competed for a spot to play in London last summer in pre-Olympic qualifiers against Manu and Argentina but did not secure a spot. However, Ginobili heaped praise on the Venezuelan team and says their future is bright.
"Venezuela will mature as their soccer. It is a great team and it showed at their Olympic qualifiers. Greivis (Vasquez) is a great player, like Hector (Romero) and Oscar (Torres). They play at a high level on this team."
As Manu mentioned, New Orleans Hornets' Greivis Vasquez is a solid player and will be the face of Team Venezuela for the future. But Manu sees lots of great things about Greivis and feels he has a great pro-basketball future.
"He's a good guy. He has much ability to play in the NBA. He's a great person, I always knew that I have served as his inspiration. His future is enormous, he just has to work non-stop and he will see the fruits of his labor."
And the feeling is mutual. Vasquez has looked up to Manu as one of the best Latino players in the NBA and sees Manu as a shining example.
For [his] humility greets you, know your name. Knowing that I am a newbie comes and asks me, "[Greivis] hello, how are you?" Not all players are like that, coming out of his way to greet another. Perhaps they made with the same status, but not with a rookie.
So Ginobili is the best of all time in Argentina and I think not only for his work ethic and humility. He has an unblemished image.
You always want to match the best or follow a model and he is. Not just for Argentines, but in the world. When presented Ginobili in the games San Antonio is the most celebrated player. To me it means pride, because he is Latino.
He opened the doors of the NBA many Latinos.
Spurs fans should know all to well how good a player Vasquez can be. He helped the eighth-seeded Grizzlies upset the first-seeded Spurs in the first round of the 2011 NBA playoffs.
But as far as Team Venezuela, Vasquez alone won't be enough if the team wants to compete with the world's great basketball team. He is a good cornerstone to build around, but more needs to be done if Venezuela wants its national anthem to be played during the medal ceremony.