Luis Scola to Play for Argentina at FIBA Worlds
The Argentines will still miss the team's longtime talisman, Manu Ginobili. But Andres Nocioni, Argentina's presumptive starting small forward, told Olé he expects Milwaukee Bucks wing Carlos Delfino to fill in admirably and make fans forget about Manu.
That's impossible, though it's worth noting Delfino isn't just good at the NBA, but he's had a good international career as well. He's not nearly the ball-handler Ginobili has been at all levels, but Delfino's smart and a good shooter. The drop-off is no bigger than the one from, say, Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant (Team USA's best 2008 backcourt) to Rajon Rondo and Chauncey Billups (the presumptive starting backcourt of Team USA at the 2010 Worlds). In other words, most teams are in worse shape compared to Beijing. It's just that basic.
Scola's confirmation assures Argentina's frontcourt will not be much worse off. Scola will team up with friend Fabricio Oberto, who last played for the Wizards. Michael Lee of the Washington Post reported Friday that Washington is interested in bringing Oberto back for one more year. Oberto's 35, and Argentina's in a touch of a pickle with its frontcourt going forward -- the nation's next big star up front is Patricio Garino, who won't play in Turkey and just turned 17 years old. The situation could be precarious for the 2012 Olympics, depending on Scola's availability and Garino's development.
Argentina is ranked No. 1 in the world by FIBA. The nation finds itself in Kayseri's Group A, where advancement should be a breeze but Serbia looms as a major early test. (Of course, Argentina-Serbia is the final game of group play; honestly, both teams should head into it 4-0, with only an escape from the deathly Spain-U.S.A. side of the bracket in the knockout stage.)