Team Argentina finished their preparations for the FIBA Americas Championship with a 7-0 record averaging 86.5 points per game while giving up just 57.1 points per game.
Their average margin per game was so impressive that they are considered one of favorite teams to gain an outright Olympic berth for the 2012 London games.
However, Argentina is not letting their guards down.
After barely beating Venezuela in their last warm-up game, the team thinks it’s a wake up call.
“This was the best thing that could happen to us,” said Luis Scola, who scored 22 points in the tightly contested game.
“It’s obvious we didn’t play a good game but it was useful. We hate when a team abandons before the game finishes and Venezuela play fiercely until the last second, like Cuba did in Cordoba a couple of weeks ago.”
“Basically we had problems against full-court pressure and defensive adjustments,”
“We have to avoid getting anxious and keep doing what we do best.”
Scola believes there are no easy rivals in Olympic qualifying tournaments.
“Our opponents will all play as Venezuela did on Thursday. They are all here to win and not to see how we play,” he warned.
San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginobili also said that Venezuela put more ball pressure at the second half that somewhat caught them off guard. He believes it will be a lesson learned for national team to improve their game.
Argentine national team’s head coach Julio Lamas concurred that the team has much to improve.
“We still have seven training sessions and that’s a lot with these players. It’s incredible how much they improve on every single day,” Lamas explained.
A cause of concern for coach Lamas is Fabricio Oberto’s condition. The former Spur is still recovering from a fibrillar rupture in his left adductor muscle and it’s still unknown if he will be able to be part of the final roster.
“Whether we will count on him depends on what the doctor says after Thursday’s tests. If he is able, he will be on the team for sure.”
“It was to be expected that he would suffer an injury after nine months without playing professional basketball.”
Nonetheless, Team Argentina should be pleased with Ginobili’s leadership and Scola’s quick recovery from an arthroscopic surgery on his left knee only four months ago.
Ginobili has led the national team in scoring several times in the warm-up games and is attacking the basket. Scola on the other hand, has played very well in Argentina’s last couple of games and is looking like his old self.
Argentina will make their Group A debut against Paraguay on August 30, followed by games against Uruguay, Puerto Rico and Panama.
Venezuela will play Tiago Splitter and Team Brazil, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Cory Joseph’s Canada in Group B.
The four top teams from each group will advance into the quarter final round.