(AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In the span of a few of hours, Spurs teammates Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili announced they had just played in their last international competition after being eliminated from the Rio Games.
Spain center Pau Gasol _ who will be joining Parker and Ginobili in San Antonio _ could be next.
But Wednesday night, it was all about Ginobili.
The 105-78 drubbing Argentina received from the U.S. didn’t matter to the Argentine fans, who chanted “Ole ... ole ... ole ... ole ... Man-ooh, Manu-ooh” well after the game. He was presented a game ball afterward and U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski called him a Hall of Fame player that was as fierce of a competitor that he’s seen in international play.
Ginobili, 39, hoped to fade away without pomp and circumstance, but that didn’t quite work out.
“It was emotional,” said Ginobili, who teared up with the outpouring of appreciation. “I didn’t want it to be. I was hoping just to sneak out and go to the locker room and do what I had to do there. But everybody conspired against it. ... It’s OK that it happened.
“They were just very cool and important displays of affection and respect. You can’t expect much more than that. You win and you can lose, but when legends of the game, people that you care a lot about on your team, say some things ... it means a lot. Today I go home with a bag full of emotions.”
Hours before, Parker explained he decided in 2014 this would be his last summer of playing international ball so he can focus on the last years of his NBA career. Parker, 34, is grateful he’ll have Ginobili with the Spurs one more year after Tim Duncan announced before the Olympics that he was retiring from the NBA. France lost to Spain 92-67 Wednesday afternoon and Parker received an ovation following his news conference.
Fans also might be saying goodbye to Gasol, who could also be exiting the international stage whenever Spain’s run ends in Rio. Gasol is reaching the twilight of his career and would be 40 years old for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
But he has at least two more games, including a rematch with U.S. in the semifinals on Friday.