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Manu Ginobili
ARG - Going to Caracas without Manu

BUENOS AIRES (FIBA Americas Championship/FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Manu Ginobili is a sports icon in Argentina, and for very good reason.

He has played a leading role in making basketball one of the top sports in his homeland with his heroics for clubs, and country.

Ginobili has always had a flair for the dramatic, be it hitting game-winning three-pointers or diving out of bounds after loose balls for key defensive plays.

He has also done the unexpected.

Once a game had to stop in San Antonio while a bat flew above the court and swooped toward the players.

Ginobili wasn't fazed in the slightest.

He slapped the winged creature to the hardwood before carrying it away so the game could continue.

In Argentina, Ginobili is known as the nation’s NBA champion because of his titles with the Spurs in 2003, '05 and '07.

He is also adored after leading the country to gold at the Athens Olympics.

Now 35, the likelihood is that the London Games will have been his last appearance at an Olympics.

He has represented the country the past two summers, including in Mar del Plata, Argentina, at the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship when he and some of his golden-generation teammates played in front of the home fans and won gold.

On national team coach Julio Lamas' recent visit to the United States to see Argentina's NBA players, he visited with Pablo Prigioni (New York), Luis Scola (Phoenix) and Carlos Delfino (Houston).

He did not meet up with Ginobili in San Antonio.

"Manu will not play in 2013," Lamas said.

"He told me. So I think we should leave him alone. I have to worry about those who go.

"It's not that I do not follow him because I see him play (on television) all the time.

"But again, I have to assemble the team of Caracas."

Lamas will coach Argentina in Caracas, Venezuela, at the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship as they try to qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.

If Argentina, who are third in the FIBA Rankings behind the United States and Spain, do reach the World Cup, there is a chance that Ginobili might have one last run with the national team.

He didn’t rule himself out, or in, after Argentina lost in heartbreaking fashion in the bronze-medal game at the Olympics.

The time is coming, though, when the golden generation is to be spoken of in the past tense and a new era is to begin.


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