Ginobili: Team USA dominance 'part of the past'

Updated: August 10, 2006, 4:30 PM ET

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.