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  • Argentina's Mr. Basketball


    (ATR) Luis Scola is the captain of the Argentinian basketball team and he is really happy about it.

    Luis Scola drives to the basket against Puerto Rico. (Lima 2019)
    Winning his country's first gold medal since 1995 at the Pan American Games could have something to do with that.

    He's experiencing his first Pan American Games in Lima and at age 39, this debut fills one of the few gaps in his professional career that included nine seasons in the NBA.

    "I'm really happy about being here, we are playing really good and wearing the national shirt it's always a responsibility," said Scola, after beating the USA in the semifinals.

    Argentina defeated Puerto Rico in the final to win the gold medal. But besides results, Scola enjoyed being part of the Pan Am team.  He looked happy and was one of the stars of the tournament, scoring 56 points for Argentina during the Games, including a game-high 28 in the final. 

    His career statistics for Argentina are impressive. So far he has scored 2581 points in 157 official games. He has played 19 international tournaments, including four Olympic Games and four World Cups, in his 20 years with the national team.

    Scola was part of the team that won the gold medal at Athens 2004, and that's a feeling he will always remember. Back then he was starting his career at 24 with a team full of star players.

    Now, he guides the youngest players on the court. He remembers his first years with the national team and tries to support the new ones with their adaptation. 

    "We did a good preparation looking forward to Lima, but our goal is the World Cup. It's an honor to play for our country, it's a jersey that represents lots of values, for basketball and life," said Scola.

    Scola served as Buenos Aires YOG ambassador. (BA 2018)
    Scola represents the values of the Olympic Movement. He was the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games ambassador. He really enjoyed that responsibility, comparing it to wearing the national shirt.

    "That was a nice experience, it was something nice to do and made me happy seeing the kids so happy," said Scola.

    He doesn't like to talk about his future.  He is focused on the present and all of his energy is on the next goal. Last season Scola played for Shanghai Sharks and for now he will stay there. With his commitment to the Argentine team, he assumes that for now his mind is on the World Cup. Only after that will there be time to rest and decide what his next step will be.

    The World Cup begins in China on August 31 and runs through Sept. 15. It is the first qualifying tournament for men's basketball for the 2020 Olympics. Seven of the 12 teams will book their tickets to Tokyo during the competition. Japan is already qualified as host nation. The final four teams will be determined by another qualifying tournament held just before the Olympics begin.

    Homepage photo: Lima 2019

    Written and reported by Olivia Diaz Ugalde in Lima.

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