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Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012

OLYMPIC NOTEBOOK

NBA stars Ginobili, Parker meet as opponents for first time


Staff writer

LONDON — Call it an awkward reunion. But an intriguing one for hoop fans worldwide to see.

News photo
Friends and foes: Argentina's Manu Ginobili and France's Tony Parker, who have been teammates for years on the NBA's San Antonio Spurs, battle in Tuesday's Olympic matchup. AFP-JIJI

Longtime San Antonio Spurs teammates Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker took the court on Tuesday in the Olympic men's basketball competition on opposite teams.

Parker helped guide France to a 71-64 victory over Ginobili's Argentine squad.

Ginobili, who has earned three NBA championship rings alongside Parker in San Antonio, scored a game-best 26 points on 9-for-20 shooting, including 3-for 7 from 3-point range.

Though Parker shot 4-for-17 from the field, he did convert 9 of 10 free throws and dish out five assists. He also had six points during a pivotal 7-0 run that gave France a 67-58 lead with 3:09 left in the fourth quarter.

After facing Ginobili, Parker admitted "it was special."

"He is one of my best friends and we have played together for a long time (since 2002). I am used to seeing him make those big shots for my team," he added.

Ginobili, who grabbed five rebounds and collected two steals, agreed that facing his superstar teammate was not a normal on-the-court experience for him.

"It was strange playing against him for the first time after playing nearly 1,000 games together," Ginobili told reporters. "Wishing for him to miss a shot is something new."

No one has called France the Dream Team. That label has belonged to the United States since 1992, ever since Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley and Co. took the world by storm at the Barcelona Olympics. However, France is a formidable foe, according to Ginobili.

"We faced a defensive team," Ginobili said, looking back at the loss to France. "They are physical, have depth and all their players can play. That was clear as we tried to attack them. The balls didn't go in (23-for-63 from the field), but not just because of us. We can't be arrogant to think that it always depends on us. They defended greatly and let us shoot only three or four open shots."

Learn as you go: Hamadou Djibo Issaka of Niger experienced his first real competition in a row boat at Eton Dorney on Tuesday. Djibo Issaka placed last in the 33-man rowing single sculls qualifying round in 9 minutes, 7.29 seconds, more than a minute slower than his nearest foe.

On Friday, he's back in the water for the F final, which determines who places 31st, 32nd and 33rd.

It was a learning experience for the 35-year-old, who has practiced using only fishing boats in the past.

"I don't have any technique. I've been learning only three months. It is all about courage," he said. "I'm getting ready for 2016 and I hope to train for it in Niger. Maybe the new boats will be there so I will be able to do it."

Tweets of the day: @Charles_HRH wrote, "This is awkward. The Olympics
have not long started and Greece are already 16 medals in debt." And
this one from @omgitismason: "Teenagers competing in the Olympics and
I'm just (sitting) here eating and tweeting my life away."
@Be_Determined_ dished out this observation, "If you think these
athletes in the Olympics got there by dreaming, your wrong. They got
there because of hard work and dedication."

A true bargain for the organizers: Sir Paul McCartney was paid POUND 1
for singing at the conclusion of the Opening Ceremony last Friday. His
stirring "Hey Jude," the Beatles anthem beloved by karaoke enthusiasts
and music fans around the world, provided an appropriate ending to a
magnificent party.

Saying it bluntly: Here are a few of the day's most memorable
quotations from the Summer Olympics:

*"We couldn't shoot into a lake," said Nigeria basketball coach
Ayodele Bakare after his team finished 16-for-66 from the field in a
72-53 defeat to Lithuania Tuesday.

*"My performance was s—-," Hungary light welterweight boxer Gyula
Kate said following his triumph over Egypt's Eslam Mohamed.

*"If I had won, I would have jumped into the River Thames. Now I do
not know what I will do," Germany's Ole Bischof said after collecting
a silver in the 81-kg men's judo competition

The last word: "The crowd was unbelievable. I hope I didn't take any
heads off on the way cutting corners." Zara Phillips, the
granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II said after completing the
cross-country portion of equestrian eventing competition aboard High
Kingdom on Monday at Greenwich Park.



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