Argentina-France Preview

While Argentina opened the Summer Games on a positive note,

France plans to move on quickly from its first Olympic contest in

12 years.

Argentina continues its quest for a third consecutive Olympic

medal as it faces France on Tuesday night in group play in

London.

With key players Luis Scola, Manu Ginobili and Andres Nocioni

all in their 30s, some have branded the Argentines too old to

seriously contend for a medal. However, they hardly showed their

age during a 102-79 rout of Lithuania on Sunday. Scola scored 32

points, Ginobili, who turned 35 on Saturday, had 21 and Nocioni

added 10 as Argentina shot 50.7 percent and forced 16

turnovers.

The gold medalists in 2004 and winners of bronze in 2008, the

Argentine players are not concerned about defying age but simply

playing well after struggling in their pre-Olympic run-up.

“I think the message is that we are old but we can play,

something like that,” said Scola, who signed with the Phoenix Suns

earlier this month after he averaged 14.5 points and 7.7 rebounds

during five seasons with the Houston Rockets.

“We didn’t want to show nothing to nobody,” Scola added. “We

weren’t playing well in the preparation. We weren’t feeling well,

we got this feeling that it’s not going well, we need to do

something, we’ve got to play better, we’ve got to move faster,

we’ve got to have a little bit more of a spark, so we needed to

have this game.”

Ginobili, who was limited to 34 games for the San Antonio Spurs

this season because of injuries, added 10 rebounds and six

assists.

“I felt very good,” he said. “Of course the adrenaline at the

beginning of an Olympic games kind of makes you forget everything,

the aches, the pain and age.”

Ginobili will square off against Spurs teammates Tony Parker and

Boris Diaw as Argentina meets France in Olympic action for the

first time since beating the French 61-52 in the 1952 Helsinki

Games.

Playing its first Olympic game since winning silver in Sydney in

2000, France had the unenviable task of opening versus a United

States team favored to win gold. Though the French trailed by one

point after one quarter, the U.S. proved too tough en route to a

98-71 loss Sunday.

Despite a roster that also includes Portland Trail Blazers

forward Nicolas Batum, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Ronny Turiaf and

Kevin Seraphin of the Washington Wizards, France went 2 for 22 from

3-point range, was outrebounded 56-40 and committed 18

turnovers.

Forward Ali Traore, who plays professionally in Russia, scored a

team-high 12 points and Parker added 10 while sporting goggles to

his protect his surgically repaired eye injured during a nightclub

brawl in New York City involving pop star Chris Brown and rapper

Drake in June.

“It can’t get tougher than playing the USA (to open the

tournament) because they are the big favorites,” Batum told

fiba.com. “But we showed that we can do something great but then

they started to make some big shots.

“Now we have to be focused on Argentina because that’s going to

be a huge test.”

Batum, who set career highs with 13.9 points and 4.6 rebounds

this season for Portland, was held to seven points Sunday while

dealing with a sore back.