Manu Ginobili: Rise and Fall with the Argentinian National Squad
Ironically, Manu Ginobili has bid farewell to professional basketball exactly 14 years after leading a talented Argentinian side over Team USA in the semifinal round of the knockout stage of Athens Olympics in 2004.
Led by a stellar performance from San Antonio Spurs legend Manu Ginobili, Argentina defeated the United States 89-81 in the Olympic semifinal round. Ginobili finished with a game-high 29 points on 9-for-13 shooting from the field.
This scenario underlines one of many scintillating matchups Manu hosted while playing with his national team. The illustrious legacy of one of the most reputed basketball nations holds Manu Ginobili at the forefront of the 'Golden Generation' of Argentinian basketball.
Let us try and delve deeper into what actually led to the inception of the 'Golden Generation' and the subsequent highs-n-lows that changed basketball forever. Not only were they capable of beating the Americans at a game the U.S. owned since the 1950's, but they cemented their legacy as the best collection of basketball talent south of the Equator.
2001 Tournament of Americas
Argentina played host to the 2001 COPABA Tournament of the Americas, later known as the FIBA Americas Championship and the FIBA AmeriCup (also as the Championship of the Americas for Men). The games were meant to be played from 16 August to 26 August, as a chance to earn berths for the 2002 FIBA World Championship, in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States.
In a highly anticipated matchup on the 17th of August at Estadio Ruca Che, Neuquén, Argentina beat USA 108-69 in a one-sided rout. They dominated Brazil, Venezuela & Uruguay in the process and swept all four group games comprehensively. Playing hosts for the tournament, Argentina went 10-0 in contrast to a young USA squad made of junior college players who ended with a 0-10 record.
Argentina won the tournament, this one being the country's first AmeriCup championship. This was the first step on a path that would solidify their place in basketball elite.