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ARG - Juan Gutierrez out, Lamas optimistic on Manu
BUENOS AIRES (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Argentina are aiming to return to the podium this summer when they play at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.
When coach Julio Lamas recently announced that Facundo Campazzo, Luis Scola, Pablo Prigioni, Leonardo Gutierrez, Juan Gutierrez, Andres Nocioni, Manu Ginobili, Carlos Delfino and Walter Herrmann would take up nine of the 12 spots in the squad, hopes of a strong showing skyrocketed.
Now Lamas knows, however, that big man Juan Gutierrez won't be able to play because of a hip injury, and the coach is also being forced to wait a few weeks before learning if Ginobili and Delfino will be fit enough to take part.
Ginobili announced a couple of weeks ago, soon after winning a fourth NBA title with the San Antonio Spurs, that he would play for Argentina but doctors then discovered he has a small stress fracture in his foot.
"It was a hard blow, we will see how he develops," Lamas said of Ginobili in a statement by the Argentinian Basketball Confederation (CABB).
"I am optimistic that he will recover and that he can be in Spain.
"We will have to wait but I know his commitment.
"If he is well, he will go to the World Cup."
Lamas and the fans will have a better idea late this month on Ginobili's availability.
"On 25 July, he will undergo new tests regarding his progress," said Diego Grippo, Argentina's team doctor.
Grippo did not have good news on Gutierrez, a veteran of the national team.
A healthy Delfino would be one of the star attractions at the World Cup.
He is trying to recover full fitness after a couple of foot operations in the past year.
Delfino did not play at all in the 2013-14 campaign for the Milwaukee Bucks after signing with the club as a free agent last summer.
"He is a little bit behind with respect of what we considered at this stage," Grippo said.
"He will undergo a test with his club in Las Vegas on Sunday (6 July)."
Gutierrez is already having to cope with the disappointment of not being able to participate in Spain.
"Juan Gutierrez had a series of consultations regarding a problem he had last season in his left hip," Grippo said.
"He will have to undergo arthroscopic (surgery) and unfortunately, he will miss the World Cup."
Argentina have a team that will compete at the South American Championship 24-28 July and Lamas will add players from that squad to the World Cup roster.
The national team will begin their preparation for the World Cup on 25 July in the Universidad Argentina de la Empresa (UADE).
Argentina, the No. 3 team in the FIBA Ranking Men, will compete in World Cup Group B in Sevilla against Greece, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Croatia and Senegal.
They reached the Final of the 2002 FIBA World Championship in Indianapolis and lost to Yugoslavia, but hit back two years later by capturing Olympic gold in Athens.
At the 2006 FIBA World Championship, the team suffered a narrow defeat to Spain in the Semi-Finals and were then kept off the podium when they fell to the United States in the Third-Place Game.