In Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night In Tunisia,” he talks about the cares of the day vanishing, the ending of the day bringing release and each night being filled with peace.
Unfortunately for the Tunisian national basketball team, they aren’t anywhere close to home, and after losing an early lead to Argentina, I doubt the cares from today’s game will be vanishing after their 28-14 first quarter lead turned into a 92-69 loss at the hands of San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginobili and Argentina.
After Tunisia’s early lead, mostly due to dominating performances by Salah Mejri and Mourad El Mabrouk, Argentina managed to bounce back behind San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili’s 18 second quarter points and went into halftime with a 40-40 tie.
Like a mismatched boxing match, it was only a matter of time before Argentina would land their most damaging blow. That came in the third quarter, with Tunisia still trying to hang on. Then Argentina went on a 9-0 run to lead by 19 points 65-46 with 3:13 remaining in the quarter. Tunisia answered back with a small rally of their own and ended the quarter with a three-pointer to close the gap to 15 points.
Carlos Delfino, who struggled against France two days ago, took over in the fourth, knocking down several midrange jumpers and getting Argentina back up to a 19-point lead with a dunk.
While Tunisia had short spurts of offense through the second half of the fourth, Argentina’s suffocating team defense often frustrated Tunisia, leading to blocked shots, turnovers or shot clock violations. That defense lead to 21 points off turnover for Argentina.
When Facundo Campazzo knocked down a corner three off a give-and-go with Luis Scola, to put Argentina up by 21 with just a minute remaining, it was over. Scola added two more points to throw salt into Tunisia’s wounds.
Ginobili re-entered the game with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth, but he did the majority of his damage in the first half, leading to some extended rest.
In just over 24 minutes, Ginobili finished with 24 points, sic rebounds, three assists, two steals and knocked down all four of his three-point attempts.
While Argentina only had two players finish in double figures against France, Ginobili had a little more help against Tunisia.
Scola chipped in 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, Delfino bounced back with 21 points, four rebounds and made nine of his 10 two-point attempts. Campazzo filled in admirably for Prigioni, scoring 12 points, grabbing nine rebounds and dishing seven assists. The 5-10 Campazzo may have just given fans a glimpse at what to expect from Argentina’s next starting point guard.
Andres Nocioni continues to struggle as he missed all six of his shots from the field. Argentina will need Nocioni, especially if they want to have a chance in a big game against the United States on Monday to end the preliminary round.
Argentina is now 2-1 and through three games, Ginobili is averaging 23.7 points, seven rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.
Next on Argentina’s schedule is a matchup with Nigeria, lead by Ike Diogu and Al-Farouq Aminu, on Saturday.