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Ginobili: Team USA dominance 'part of the past'

SINGAPORE -- Manu Ginobili rates the United States as one of the favorites to win this year's FIBA World Championship, but the Argentine guard insists the days of Team USA's dominance are "part of the past."

Speaking from the site where Olympic champions Argentina
will be competing in the Singapore Cup this weekend against
Spain, Slovenia and defending world champion Serbia Montenegro, the San Antonio Spur believes the gap in the talent
level between U.S. basketball and the rest of the world is
gradually diminishing.

"I don't think you're ever going to see again a U.S. team that
beats everyone else by a big margin. That was 15 years ago or
whenever it was," Ginobili said. "Now basketball has changed
and many of us are playing with them [in the NBA] every single
day so we're getting closer.

"Even though they are very good, beating everyone else by 30
points -- that's part of the past."

However, given the amount of talent at the Americans' disposal,
Ginobili is not about to write off their chances of regaining
their first FIBA World Championship crown since 1994 although he believes that much will depend on their team chemistry in
Japan.

"We know that they have a lot of young talent, but we don't know
how they will play together, he said. "We'll only know that
when the World Championship starts.

"Of course the United States will always be among the favorites
because of the talent that they have like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony. However, basketball is about the
team, it's not only about the players. As long as they play
together, they play good defense and they play as a team, then
they're going to have a big chance of winning it."

As for his own team, Ginobili is confident that Argentina is
hitting form at just the right time as it seeks to win its first
World Championship since a triumph at the inaugural tournament
in 1950.

"Of course the first couple of weeks [of training] were hard
because everybody was rusty and trying to get back into shape
and getting used to playing with each other again," he said.
"We're now playing in the same way that we want to be at the
World Championship."

Along with Ginobili, Argentina has the core of its team back from
Athens, including small forward Andres Nocioni, who has since
gone on to great success with the Chicago Bulls.

Up front, the South Americans still have Luis Scola and Fabricio Oberto to provide interior scoring and rebounding. The only question mark for Argentina is at point guard, where former
Temple player Pepe Sanchez and young Pablo Prigioni are
untested.

"Every time we play, we want to win, that's for sure," Ginobili
said. "It may be the World Championship, the Olympics, the NBA
Championship or the South American Championship, but we always want to win."

Argentina faces Serbia Montenegro in its opening game of the
Singapore Cup on Friday evening, before taking on Slovenia on
Saturday and Spain on Sunday at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.