For being considered one of the elder teams in the Olympics, San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili and Argentina showed that age doesn’t exclude firepower as the Argentineans blasted Lithuania 102-79 to take a 1-0 lead in their 2012 Olympic run.
Old? Ginobili, a day after turning 35-years of age, put up a double-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, and four steals. Another “elder” player, Luis Scola, who was amnestied by the Houston Rockets recently, led Argentina in scoring with 32 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three blocks. Carlos Delfino (20 points), Andres Nocioni (10 points), and Pablo Prigioni (9 points) all helped provide the fuel for the route of the Lithuanians.
Here’s the rundown
First quarter: Argentina (ARG) 24, (LIT) Lithuania 23
Player of the quarter (ARG): Scola – Scola scored 10 points in the first quarter by displaying his solid fundamentals in the low post. Whether it was using pump fakes to finish with hook shots over players, or hitting his consistent 17-foot jumper, Scola kept the Argentines alive in the first quarter. He also may have made Phoenix Suns fans burst with excitement, as he’ll be joining their franchise this coming season.
Player of the quarter (LIT): Linas Kleiza – Kleiza had nine points for Lithuania in the first quarter by hitting shots from the perimeter, but also working for loose balls and finishing near the rim.
Highlight (ARG): Ginobili delivered a smooth beautiful pass from the 3-point line to Scola who was right underneath the basket to finish the easy basket. The play looked reminiscent of a bowling player smoothly rolling the ball down the lane.
Highlight (LIT): Toronto Raptors rookie-to-be Jonas Valanciunas (6 points, 5 rebounds) received and slammed an alley-oop early in the first quarter. Though he may have issues with speed in the NBA, Valanciunas certainly has the height and size to have a chance in the league.
Second quarter: ARG 51, LIT 39
Player of the quarter (ARG): Delfino – Delfino provided Argentina with 12 points in the second quarter, all were 3-pointers. His hot shooting helped Argentina go ahead by 14 points at one time in the quarter.
Highlight (ARG): Argentina’s fluid passing in the half court - Watching the Argentine’s on offense as they pass and penetrate the basketball is reminiscent of the Spurs when they’re playing well. Argentina had 13 assists at halftime, they would finish with 21 for the game. 21 assists in a game are very comparable “Spurs” assist numbers.
Spurs spotlight at half: Ginobili quietly had nine points, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals at halftime. Ginobili was doing what Ginobili usually does, he was slicing and dicing through the defense, hit a 3-pointer, made some steals, and got to the free throw line in the first half.
Third quarter: ARG 78, LIT 61
Player of the quarter (ARG): Delfino (8 points), Scola (9 points), Ginobili (6 points) – The three Argentineans helped ignite a route in the third quarter, first Delfino continued to hit from distance, then got a layup in the open court off a steal. Scola continued to hit his outside jumper and play physical in the post by scoring hook shots and getting the free throw line, and Ginobili provided some third quarter highlights with Manu-esque maneuvers.
Player of the quarter (LIT): Kleiza (8 points) – Kleiza being one of Lithuania’s few players with NBA experience, he did what he could to keep his club in the game under 20 points, but it just wasn’t enough as he wasn’t receiving much help from his teammates. Kleiza finished the game with a team-high 20 points.
Highlight (ARG): On one possession, Ginobili slashed through the defense starting on the left side of the floor, he used a Euro-step to cut and finish underneath the rim on the right side with his left hand. On another play, Ginobili cut hard with the ball toward two defenders on the baseline, he used a slow motion-Matrix looking Euro-step to smoothly release a floater underneath the rim. The crowd went into an uproar on these two plays.
Fourth quarter: ARG 102, LIT 79
Player of the quarter (ARG): Ginobili (6 points), Scola (9 points) – The two Argentina veterans guided Argentina to the win as Ginobili kept finding ways to score and finding his teammates, while Scola played physically and kept getting back to the free throw line.
Highlight (ARG): On one play, Ginobili drove the ball on the left side, performed a spin move and finished for the layup. It was almost like watching a hockey player spinning. On one of his final highlights, Ginobili stole a pass in the backcourt and finished with a layup in the open court.
On Tuesday, Ginobili will be facing his Spurs teammates Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, and Nando De Colo, as Argentina will meet France in each others second Group A preliminary round game. France was routed by U.S.A. earlier on Sunday.