Luis Scola Anchors Argentina's Attack
Yes, Luis Scola has been around the national team for years, including being part of the 2004 Olympic gold-medal winning outfit. But this is the first time "Senor LScola,'' which is what he was dubbed in one of Ginobili's retweets, truly has been "El Hombre'' for Argentina.
Ginobili, the star guard for the Spurs, is back home in San Antonio and not playing here in the FIBA World Championship. Instead, he's tweeting about the event to his 308,000-plus followers, and Scola is giving him plenty to write about.
The Houston Rockets forward scored 37 points Tuesday and took charge down the stretch as Argentina beat archrival Brazil 93-89 at the Sinan Erdem Dome to earn a berth in the quarterfinals. Next up is Lithuania on Thursday, with the winner in a Saturday semifinal to face the victor of Thursday's Team USA-Russia quarterfinal.
Scola made all four of his field-goal attempts and scored 10 points in the final 3:06 as Argentina held off Brazil and his former coach. Brazil's Ruben Magnano had coached the nation to the south to that 2004 gold medal.
"I was blessed that I could make all the chances I took,'' Scola said of his late-game flurry, which including a trio of tough jump shots. "This is the way basketball is. Sometimes it goes in. Sometimes it goes out.''
It's been going in most of the time for Scola in Istanbul. He's averaging a tournament-best 30.3 points while also pulling down 8.0 rebounds an outing.
"I love Manu. I love (Andres) Nocioni,'' Scola said, mentioning another stalwart not playing for Argentina in Nocioni, who dropped out just before the event because his Philadelphia 76ers were wary of a nagging ankle injury. "I love everybody who is not here. But they're not here. I think it's time to talk about the guys who are here.''
Well, the 6-foot-9 Scola is here. And plenty of folks are talking about how great he's looking for Argentina, a team that really could cause problems for the Americans, who are not particularly strong in the post, if they meet. Scola shot 14 of 20 Tuesday and grabbed nine rebounds.
Scola made quite happy several hundred Argentine fans, who waved flags, cheered and sang throughout the game. They even sang "We Are the Champions'' in a halftime karaoke-type spot.
"Luis is great,'' said Argentina center Fabricio Oberto. "He has such stamina. He's so thirsty to play basketball. He makes everything look so easy.''
Scola even took on an NBA guard to make one of the key plays of the game. With 46 seconds left and Argentina up 87-84, Scola forced Brazil's Leandro Barbosa, of the Toronto Raptors, into a turnover, although Carlos Delfino got credit for the steal. Scola then hit a big jumper to push the lead to five.
"He's incredible,'' said Brazil center Tiago Splitter. "He had an incredible game.''
Splitter, who signed with Houston rival San Antonio, will be running into Scola plenty now. Scola re-signed with the Rockets earlier this summer for $47 million over five years.
The way Scola, 30, is playing in the Worlds, it looks like a discount.
Meanwhile, Ginobili, 33, is busy tweeting during the games. Most of his entries Tuesday were in Spanish, but he did offer this one in English: "Great half in Istambul. BRA48 )Huertas 18)-ARG46 (Scola 15). Watch it on NBAtv!''
The second half would be even better as Scola scored 22 points. In fact, he seems to be getting better every half he plays.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson