SAN ANTONIO (AP) -San Antonio Spurs star Manu Ginobili said he expects his injured ankle to be healed by the time he and Argentina's national team begin the defense of their 2004 gold medal in the Summer Olympics in Beijing.
``It's something that I am looking forward to and of course at the same time I want to get ready, healthy to try to defend it,'' Ginobili said Saturday.
Practices for the team don't begin until early July, meaning Ginobili will have more than a month to let his ankle recover. The Olympics are Aug. 8-24.
``Yesterday I got an injection to get the swelling off of the joint, and they told me that in a week, 10 days I'll be totally fine,'' Ginobili said. ``So I trust them and I think I'm going to be perfectly healed.''
Ginobili hurt his left ankle early in the playoffs and it clearly hampered him in the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. After averaging 18.2 and 21.3 points in the first two series against Phoenix and New Orleans, Ginobili's output fell to 12.6 points against Los Angeles.
The Spurs lost to the Lakers in five games. The series concluded Thursday night and San Antonio failed to successfully defend last year's NBA title.
Ginobili, this season's Sixth Man Award winner, was the Spurs' leading scorer during the regular season with 19.5 points per game.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said there is always concern about the physical toll that playing in the offseason can have.
``He's got to heal and he's going to have that time,'' Popovich said. ``We started that process today with Manu and he'll be off of his ankle for the next four to five weeks. Obviously we couldn't do that during the playoffs, would have been great if we could have, but he'll be off of it for a good month for sure.
``I think once it's healed, then he'll play for the Argentine team. And that's probably a good thing because these guys play in the summertime anyway and the more organized you can be, probably the less chance you have of getting an injury.''
After the Olympics, Ginobili will have several more weeks before beginning the NBA season.
Argentina beat Italy 84-69 in 2004 in Athens for the gold. Ginobili had 16 points and six assists in that game.
Ginobili sat out last summer's qualifying tournament, in which Argentina lost to the United States in the gold medal game.

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