RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Star guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, NBA teammates for the San Antonio Spurs, bid emotional farewells to international play Wednesday, August 17 after quarter-final losses at the Rio Olympics.
Spain defeated Parker and his French teammates 92-67 while Ginobili’s Argentina side was routed 105-78 by the US NBA stars.
“It has been an amazing run,” Ginobili said of a 20-year span topped by 2004 Olympic gold. “I’m very proud. Sad and happy.”
Parker achieved his goal of making France a champion, taking Most Valuable Player honours from his homeland’s 2013 EuroBasket crown.
“I’m very proud of what we did,” Parker said. “I enjoyed it. The last 16 years have been great. I don’t regret one second.
“I take a lot of pride playing in this atmosphere. When we take some time to reflect on what we did, we can be proud.”
Parker, 34, and Ginobili, 39, each helped the Spurs win 4 NBA titles and lifted their national sides into global prominence.
“It has been an incredible era,” Ginobili said. “Something very important in your life is ending, and that means a lot, makes me feel a little emotional.”
US star Carmelo Anthony and US coach Mike Krzyzewski delivered personal best wishes to Ginobili.
“When legends of the game show their respect, it has an extra value to it,” Ginobili said. “They spared some very kind words. I truly appreciate it.”
Anthony said he praised Ginobili “not just to what he’s meant to the basketball in Argentina, but to that country as a whole. He has put in a lot of work and represented them in a great fashion. He’s put that country on his back over the years.”
Parker says his body can no longer take the extra duty of international play and still be effective over the 6-month NBA campaign.
“It was my last game,” Parker said. “I’m not going to change my mind on that. It takes a toll.”
Ginobili was proud his body had held up so long.
“I’m proud of the longevity, the way we played, all the things we accomplished, the friendships and the camaraderie we created,” Ginobili said. “To play this game at 39, it’s not something that happens often. It has been an amazing run.”
It’s the end of an era for both teams. France will also say goodbye to forward Florent Pietrus, 35, and forward Mickael Gelabale, 33.
“We wanted to give them a medal, but we won’t,” French center Rudy Gobert said. “These 3 have done a lot of great things for this team. Not the best way to go out, but we don’t forget what they have done.”
Argentina also says farewell to 36-year-old forwards Andres Nocioni and Luis Scola.
“It was a pleasure to share all these moments,” Nocioni said. “It was a pleasure, but this cycle had to come to an end.”
“We got a chance to fight, compete, grow up together. Do some good things. Lose some games together, win some games together. It was fun,” Scola said.
New Big Three with Gasol?
Ginobili and Parker this year said goodbye to Spurs big man Tim Duncan, whose retirement breaks up the San Antonio’s ‘Big 3’.
“A lot of emotions. It’s always tough when it finally happens,” Parker said. “Those 15 years with Tim, all the success we had, I’m happy Manu has got one more year.”
The Spurs will have a new veteran big man in Spaniard Pau Gasol, who helped show Parker’s French team to the Olympic exit. In fact, Parker never beat Gasol in international play.
“I beat him a lot in the NBA, so it evens out,” Parker said. – Rappler.com
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