Former San Antonio Spurs center Fabricio Oberto announced his retirement from basketball due to a heart condition in November 2010.
He did his best to stay fit and healthy during his post NBA career, hoping that one day he could play competitive basketball again.
Opportunity eventually came knocking.
With the Argentine national team eyeing a berth at the 2012 Olympics in London, Argentina coach Julio Lamas called up Fabricio for help.
Oberto entered the basketball court again after 284 days, in Argentina’s 106-53 easy win over Venezuela in a friendly game on August 13.
However, after three minutes of his second game, the former Spur suffered a fibrillar rupture on his left adductor muscle and doctors advised him to stop practicing for 10 to 15 days.
Despite the odds, coach Lamas is still pinning his hopes on Oberto.
“I hope I can count on him for the tournament,” said Lamas, who plans to use Oberto at the FIBA Americas even if he can play only from the quarterfinal round.
“I’m not sure he will make it, though.”
The 36-year old player has started physiotherapy in his hometown, Cordoba, and will be back with the national team on Wednesday, he was a pivotal part of Argentine national team that won Olympic Gold in 2004.
Lamas will listen to the doctors before informing the final 12-player roster following a friendly game against Venezuela in Buenos Aires, on Thursday. “We need him,” said Spurs guard Manu Ginobili.
Leonardo Gutierrez, another member of the Golden Generation, was ruled out of the tournament due to a heart condition in early August which is similar to what Oberto had.
“Oberto will be part of the team,” said Gutierrez, who became part of the coaching staff.
“He’s a key player and he has to be there even if he plays five, ten or fifteen minutes.”
Argentina remains unbeaten after six friendly matches: Paraguay, Basque Country, Cuba, Venezuela – twice – and Uruguay.
At the FIBA Americas Championship, Argentina will compete in Group B against Paraguay, Uruguay, Puerto Rico and Panama. The first four teams will advance to the quarterfinal round.