BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) - San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili will not play for Argentina during Olympic qualifying, but does plan to be part of the national team when it defends its championship at the Beijing Games in 2008.
Ginobili posted on his Web site Monday that the Spurs had requested he skip the Americas qualifying tournament in Las Vegas from Aug. 22-Sept. 2, and he hoped Argentine fans would understand his decision.
He said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich gave ``rather understandable arguments.'' Ginobili, who is in the middle of a six-year deal with the Spurs, noted he's been playing nearly 10 years during NBA offseasons for Argentina, and needed a break.
``This (Olympic qualifier) did not allow me sufficient time to rest,'' the 29-year-old Ginobili wrote.
``I hope you understand my decision. This wasn't easy ... but I believe it's the right decision in the long run.''
The Argentine squad coached by Sergio Hernandez will have one other notable absentee from the tournament: Walter Herrman of the Charlotte Bobcats, who also withdrew.
It remained unclear whether Fabricio Oberto of the Spurs and Andres Nocioni of the Chicago Bulls would also join Argentina.
All four were the core of the gold medal-winning squad at the Athens Olympics.
Qualifying starts in Las Vegas for Argentina against Uruguay, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Panama in Group A.
The United States, Brazil, Venezuela, Canada and Virgin Islands are in Group B.
The top two teams will earn spots in Beijing, while the teams finishing third through fifth have another chance in a qualifying tournament to be held in July 2008.
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