Aside from soccer, Argentina thrives in showcasing its skills and talents in many sports ventures, including basketball. Its teams dominate basketball arenas, and the Golden Generations turned the eyes of global sports fans to this country.
Basketball in Argentina began in 1912. It went through different name changes as official basketball associations developed and grew. Over time, the country’s teams were even able to beat professionals from the USA in a friendly match.
What is this Golden Generation and where did it come from? Further, what are Argentina’s basketball teams? Are basketball players in Argentina well-compensated? Continue reading to know the answers to these questions (and more).
Basketball began in Argentina just over a decade after the turn of the 20th century. It was 1912, and Canadian Professor Paul Philip taught the Asociación Cristiana de Jóvenes (YMCA) about the sport.
At first, only three teams existed in Argentina, which was Hindu, Independiente, and YMCA. In the same year it started, Argentina had its first basketball games in Buenos Aires. A year later, the first games between Argentine and Uruguayan teams occurred.
In 1921, the Federación Argentina de Basket-Ball (FABB) or Argentine Basketball Federation opened its doors to organize competitions in several cities around the country. Argentine cities, such as Bahia Blanca and Cordoba, were at the forefront of these sports competitions. Soon, these locales would become quite famous, thanks to the development of basketball in their respective regions.
From 1922 to 1926, the Hindu Argentine team won five consecutive titles, making this achievement to be the first big win of the country’s official basketball league. This team remained unbeaten six more times as it toured Europe to play friendly matches.
In August 1929, the Argentine Basketball Federation (now called Confederación Argentina) started spreading the sport across Buenos Aires and to the rest of the provinces in the country. The founding members of this organization were Bahia Blanca, North Federation, Cordoba, Santa Fe, La Rioja, and, of course, Buenos Aires.
Throughout the years, Argentina found great meaning in playing in official basketball matches. So much so that the country’s team entered its Golden Generation in the year 2000.
Where did the Golden Generation Come From?
What is Argentina’s Golden Generation? Take note that the term came from Portuguese sports media, wherein it referred to a period of frequent successes from highly-skilled Portuguese footballers. Since then, the term is used in various sports and countries, including Argentina.
Argentina’s Golden Generation began in the year 2000. It started during a match against the USA’s Men’s Basketball Team, also called the ‘Dream Team.’ The USA’s Dream Team seemed to be unstoppable after accumulating several wins, particularly claiming victories in Barcelona, Atlanta, and Sydney in different tournaments.
While basketball fans worldwide had their eyes on the American team, another team is obtaining multiple victories. It was the Argentine team that was on the rise, and one of the reasons why it didn’t have enough exposure as compared to the USA’s team is because Argentina had little success in international basketball. At least, during that period.
It wasn’t until 2002 when Argentina surprised the world at that year’s FIBA World Cup. The country’s players proved their skills in the court as they dominated through different plays. Former USA coach Larry Brown recalled that the American team was more ‘in tune’ with playing basketball against teams from Europe, Italy, Russia, and Yugoslavia. However, the American team wasn’t expecting the basketball prowess of Argentina.
Argentina proved that its teams had what it takes to dominate the international basketball scene. However, the country’s team only won the silver medal in the 2002 FIBA World Cup. Nonetheless, to say that the sports world became astonished by this feat is an understatement.
The Big Win
After winning the silver medal in the 2002 FIBA World Cup, Argentina’s basketball team set its goals for other future ventures. Two years later, the country’s basketball athletes were adamant at healing and covering the scars that occurred two years before.
It was at Athens in 2004 when Argentina’s team had the chance to defeat Yugoslavia, the country that defeated them two years prior. In an emotional game, Argentina snatched victory from Yugoslavia by staying ahead by one point.
Manu Ginóbili was the man of the hour as he risked it all in one final attempt to win. His efforts weren’t in vain as it was also the most important two points of his entire professional basketball career. The attempt was sloppy, but Ginóbili had the right intentions and level of determination to make the shot.
Here’s a clip of the shot that made history:
An Uphill Struggle
Although the win over Yugoslavia was more than deserving, Argentina still had to face other highly proficient teams before they can truly call themselves the ultimate international basketball team for that year.
Soon, Argentina faced losses against Italy and Spain but won against the New Zealand and the People’s Republic of China teams. With these standings, the Argentine team had to win against an old rival to proceed – the USA team.
Fortunately, the Argentine team will fight against the USA basketball team on its home court. Still, doubts were floating in the air as the cheers of local fans might not be enough for the team to obtain victory.
Nonetheless, Argentina’s determination to win was still strong enough to exclaim, ‘we will beat the USA team’ before the match started. However, the challenge seems to be more of a dream than a reality. Even though Argentina was able to beat the American team at a previous World Cup tournament, they weren’t playing in the Olympics. Therefore, Argentina lacked the experience to optimize its strategies against the USA.
But all wasn’t lost as the American team isn’t invincible since it lost to Athens and Puerto Rico. Despite America having highly-trained athletes, Argentina had something massive in store: its desire to win.
Once again, it was Ginóbili that led the Argentine team to victory. It was also quite an emotional match as Argentina was able to win with 89 points for the match with the USA team only garnering 81 points.
However, one more team stood in Argentina’s way in grasping the gold medal: Italy. With victory within arm’s reach, the Argentine team was able to beat the Italian team with a 15-point lead.
Who are the Best Basketball Players in Argentina?
Argentina’s victories weren’t possible if it weren’t for its roster of superstar basketball players. Since it opened its doors, Argentina’s official basketball association brought greatly skilled athletes to play against the big names in basketball history. Some of the best players in Argentina’s Men’s Basketball Team are:
1. Luis Scola
Born in April 1980, Luis Alberto Scola Balvoa played for a few years in the NBA. He played for and with the Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns, Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors, and, finally, the Brooklyn Nets. But before he set foot in the NBA, Luis Scola is a regular member of his home country’s national team.
Scola’s achievements are more than impressive as he was able to accrue different titles and medals. Some of his accomplishments include being a three-time Spanish King’s Cup Winner, three-time Spanish Supercup Winner, and the 2000 Rookie of the Year of the Spanish League.
2. Walter Herrmann
Like Scola, Walter Herrmann Heinrich had the chance to play in the NBA. He was with the Charlotte Pistons from 2006 to 2007 and transferred to the Detroit Pistons afterward, of which he stayed for two more years.
But before he entered the NBA, Herrmann started his professional basketball career with the Olimpia Basketball Club in 1996. It wasn’t long before this Argentine player would rack achievement after achievement.
For instance, in 1999, the Argentine League awarded Herrmann with the Revelation of the Year award. Furthermore, he was the top scorer in the Argentine Super 8 Tournament in 2013.
3. Andrés Nocioni
Andrés Marcelo Nocioni is a retired professional basketball player who played for several teams, including the Chicago Bulls, Sacramento Kings, and Philadelphia 76ers. Aside from playing in the NBA, Nocioni started in the Olimpia Basketball Club like Herrmann.
Furthermore, Nocioni has no shortage of obtaining different awards in his professional basketball career. For instance, he was the Spanish League MVP in 2004. Nocioni was also the EuroLeague Final Four MVP in 2015.
4. Fabricio Oberto
Fabricio Raúl Jesús Oberto is a 6-foot 10-inch Argentine-Italian professional basketball player. He takes on the role of center and power forward for different teams, some of which hail from the NBA.
Oberto has an average of 3.2 points and 1,175 rebounds per game. He was also crowned the LNB MVP in 1998 and the LNB Finals MVP in the same year.
5. Manu Ginóbili
Many know the name Emanuel ‘Manu’ David Ginóbili and with good reason. He was the player responsible for the Argentine team acquiring its Golden Generation with his sloppy yet effective shot against Yugoslavia.
As such, it’s to no one’s surprise the Ginóbili has many achievements under his belt. These awards include being one of the 50 Greatest EuroLeague Contributors (circa 2008), the FIBA AmeriCup MVP in 2001, and the 2002 Italian Cup MVP.
What is the Average Salary of a Basketball Player in Argentina?
The average salary of an Argentine basketball player is US$ 7-8,000 per month with a maximum salary of US$ 10-15,000 per month. In comparison, EuroLeague players can pocket US$ 500-800 thousand per season with a maximum payment of US$ 4 million per season.
What is the State of the Argentina Basketball in 2021?
The COVID-19 pandemic is still wreaking its ugly head over the world, especially in Argentina. At the time of writing, the country is ravaged with waves of economic depression that its people are finding it difficult to live a semblance of their pre-coronavirus lives.
At this time, hope is the only thing that many people in the country can grasp. It’s also hope that drives the Argentine team to move forward as players set their sights on snatching the gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics on July 2021.
Argentina will fight against old nemesis Spain in Group C. It was also the Spain team that denied Argentina in claiming its second world title back in China in 2019. Nicolas Laprovittola, Argentina’s guard, said that they left the arena with anger in their hearts. However, the players channeled the rage of losing by training harder than ever before. That way, the team will be ready when they face its old opponents back in the court in Tokyo.
Like many countries, Argentina had humble beginnings for its basketball industry. Many cities worldwide paid no heed to this country’s basketball team until Argentine players proved others wrong. The country was able to enter its Golden Generation of basketball in 2000, which highlighted a series of fortunate events for the nation’s official team.