Argentina's Ginobili doesn't mind sharing minutes

Updated: August 25, 2006, 4:33 PM ET
Associated Press

SAITAMA, Japan -- Manu Ginobili knows what it's like to be in the spotlight. At the World Basketball Championship, he's content with a slightly different role.

The San Antonio Spurs star has had a strong showing at the tournament so far, scoring 70 points to help Olympic champion Argentina to a 5-0 record in the preliminary round.

Only Luis Scola (79) has more points than Ginobili for Argentina, which faces New Zealand on Saturday in the round of 16.

Ginobili, who is averaging 14 points, is playing a somewhat reduced role and says teamwork is the key to Argentina's success.

"If I go to the bench after 10 minutes, I want the guy who replaces me to play well," Ginobili said. "If I'm playing with him, I want to help him. We're not as talented as other teams and we don't have shooters like other teams, but we play well together."

Argentina has a lot of front-line talent such as Ginobili, San Antonio teammate Fabricio Oberto and Andres Nocioni of the Chicago Bulls.

But the team also has a strong bench that saw plenty of action in the preliminary round. Walter Herrmann is third in scoring with 67 points.

Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez used Ginobili sparingly against some of the weaker teams in Group A.

"He's totally unselfish," said Hernandez. "If I take him out and we're doing well, he doesn't mind letting the other guys play longer. He has no ego and is only concerned about the success of the team."

The most time he's logged in a single game came against France, when he played 33 minutes and scored 25 points in Argentina's 80-70 win.

Like many NBA stars, Ginobili could have sat out the worlds. But the two-time NBA champion says he's in it for the fun and the challenge.

"I'm here because I enjoy doing it," Ginobili said. "We're a bunch of friends who enjoy playing together for our country and we have a chance of winning it. I still have a passion for the game and enjoy doing it."

Argentina, the runner-up at the 2002 worlds in Indianapolis, is on course for a semifinal showdown with Spain, which also went 5-0 in pool play. That game would pit the Spain's Pau Gasol against Ginobili and Co.

If the seeds hold, the other semifinal would pit the United States against Greece, which defeated Turkey 76-69 Thursday to win Group C.

Ginobili thinks the United States will be a lot tougher this time around.

"I haven't seen the U.S. team play together, but I know them all very well," he said. "I know they have a lot of talent, athleticism and hunger because most of the main guys lost in the Olympics; so I know they don't want to miss this chance."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press