San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginobili and the Argentinean National team returned to action Friday night in the Super 4 exhibition tournament with a 80 to 67 win over Cuba in Cordoba, Argentina.
Ginobili put on a spectacular performance as he led Argentina with 25 points, eight rebounds, and three steals shooting 50% from the field in 22 minutes of action.
Argentina was leading 23 to 14 over Cuba in the second quarter as Houston’s Luis Scola had 11 points and Ginobili had six points. Ginobili checked into the game with about six minutes remaining in the second quarter and I can confirm after watching that Ginobili is not playing with any arm braces anymore.
With three minutes left in the second quarter, Argentina’s point guard Pepe Sanchez threw an alley-oop from the top of the three-point line as Ginobili caught the ball and finished the alley-oop layup in mid air. The crowd’s roar grew louder. Ginobili then set up a no-look-pass to a wide-open Leonardo Mainoldi for an Argentina three. The Argentinians went into halftime leading 45 to 28.
Here’s where the lockout will make me miss not being able to see Ginobili play on a regular basis next season. Ginobili came out of halftime and scored 6 of Argentina’s 18 third quarter points. He got to the free throw line multiple times as he hit an and-one off of an inbounds pass. Scola and Andres Nocioni each fed a slashing Ginobili as he caught the ball and got fouled to go to the line. Then, Ginobili was thrown a wide-open pass, as he was ready to shoot on the three-point line. He connected on the shot and was on his own 6-0 run. Ginobili would be sent to the bench with three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
At the end of the third quarter, Argentina led 63 to 46 but Canada played very well in the quarter matching Argentina in quarter points scored.
Here’s a cause for concern. On two of Ginobili’s free throw attempts, he missed two consecutive free throws. I don’t know if his shooting was just off or if his mending arm is still affecting him.
Ginobili started the fourth quarter and closed out the game as he scored 8 of Argentina’s 17 fourth quarter points. Ginobili was too much for the Cubans as he constantly got to the free throw line hitting a high floating tear drop, and was wide open to finish on the fast break. With a 14-point lead in their hands, Argentina’s head coach let Ginobili go to the bench after he scored his 25th point off of a free throw with three minutes remaining in the game.
Ginobili and Argentina will play Memphis’ Greivis Vasquez and Venezuela Saturday night in the winner’s bracket of the Super 4 tournament.