The South American country Argentina was one of the basketball powerhouses of the early 2000s. The team won the gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, beating Italy 84-69 in the finals. Team Argentina was also the first national team to defeat an All-NBA U.S. Men’s basketball team when they beat the Americans in the 2002 FIBA World Championships held in Indianapolis.
The win at the 2004 Olympics paved the way for Argentinians to receive call ups from NBA teams. Most of the Argentinians who made it to the NBA were members of that fabled team.
Here is the list of the players from Argentina who made it to the NBA:
Born in Bahia Blanca, Emmanuel Ginobili made his professional debut for the Argentinian Basketball League in 1995, playing for La Rioja’s Andino Sport Club. He moved to his hometown’s Estudiantes Bahia Blanca the following year and played there until 1998. He entered the 1999 NBA draft and was drafted 57th overall by the San Antonio Spurs but instead of playing in the NBA, he returned to Italy to play for Kinder Bologna which he led to the 2001 Italian League Championship and 2001 Euroleague title.
Manu finally joined the Spurs in 2003 and at first, he backed up Steve Smith while finding it hard to adjust to the NBA style of play. After starting just five regular-season games, he blossomed in the postseason and helped the team win their second NBA title. Manu would help the Spurs win three more NBA titles and he would go on to play for two All-Star teams and named to two All-NBA third-team selections. Ginobili was the 2008 NBA Sixth Man of the Year and his #20 was retired by the San Antonio Spurs. In international play, he helped Argentina win the 2004 Athens Olympic gold medal and the silver medal at the 2002 World Cup.
Luis Scola was born in Buenos Aires and he began his basketball career with the city’s youth team and later with the Ferro Carril Oeste of the Argentinian Basketball League. After the 1997-98 season, he went to Spain and played for Saski Baskonia who loaned him to Gijon Baloncesto whom he helped win the Spanish League Second Division title and earn promotion. Scola then played for Baskonia and helped them to three straight Euroleague Final Four appearances. Although he never won the Euroleague title, Scola helped Basconia win every major Spanish League title.
Scola was picked 56th overall in 2002 by the San Antonio Spurs but after a difficult buyout, San Antonio instead signed Scola’s teammate Fabricio Oberto. Scola’s rights were traded to the Houston Rockets for Vassilis Spanoulis and Scola would play for the Rockets from 2007-2012. He finished third in the Rookie of the Year balloting in 2008 and stayed with Houston until July 2012 when he was waived to clear space for Dwight Howard. Scola also played for the Phoenix Suns, Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors, and Brooklyn Nets before finishing his career in China.
Andres Nocioni was born in Santa Fe and he also started his basketball career at the Argentinian Basketball League. Nocioni was the league’s best Sixth Man in 2001 and he later went to Spain to play as an import for TAU Ceramica of the top-tier level of Spanish basketball. Nocioni was named as the league MVP in 2004 and he made the All-Euroleague team in 2003 and 2004.
After helping Argentina win the 2004 Olympic Gold medal in Greece, Nocioni was signed by the Chicago Bulls as an undrafted rookie. He played 81 regular-season games during his first year in the NBA, averaging 8.4 points and 4.8 rebounds. He earned a reputation as a physical player but he became a fan favorite in Chicago. In 2009, he was traded to the Sacramento Kings where he struggled and was dealt with the Philadelphia 76ers. Nocioni returned to Span to play for his former team following his release from the NBA. He retired after the 2016-17 season.
Like Andres Nocioni, Carlos Delfino was born in Santa Fe and he also started his basketball journey with the Argentinian Basketball League. Delfino played for Olimpia de Venado and then Union de Santa Fe before moving to Italy in 2000. He played four seasons for Italy’s League A, spending time with Reggio Calabria and Skipper Bologna. Delfino also played for the 2004 Argentinian Men’s basketball team which won the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics.
Delfino was drafted 25th overall in the 2003 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons, making him the first Argentinian player to be picked in the first round of the NBA Draft. Delfino signed with the Pistons but didn’t play until two months because of a knee injury. He struggled with coach Larry Brown’s system but when Detroit hired Flip Saunders, Delfino flourished and he stayed with the team until 2007 when he was traded to the Toronto Raptors. Delfino also had two stints with the Milwaukee Bucks with tenure for the Houston Rockets in between.
Walter Hermann also played for the 2004 Olympic gold medal-winning Argentinian men’s basketball team. Born in Venado Tuerto also in Santa Fe, Hermann played for his hometown team in the third tier of Argentina’s basketball league where he was named Rookie of the Year in 1999. Hermann then played for Atenas Cordoba where he became the 2001 MVP of the Argentinian league and Finals MVP of the same league in 2002. Hermann also played for the Spanish ACB and was named league MVP as well.
Hermann was signed by the Charlotte Hornets in 2007 as he was an undrafted player from 2001. He would win Rookie of the Month honors for March 2007 after averaging 12.1 points and 4.2 rebounds for the Hornets. He finished the season on the All-Rookie second team but ended up being traded to the Detroit Pistons where he stayed until 2009. After his NBA career was over, he returned to Spain and also played in Argentina and Brazil.
Pablo Prigioni was born in Cordoba and he began his professional basketball career with Ramallo of the Argentine LNB League. In 1999, Prigioni moved to Spain and found himself playing for the Spanish club Fuenlabrada. He joined Baskonia in 2003 and helped the team win several titles including 3 Spanish King’s Cups and 4 Spanish Supercups.
Prigioni went undrafted in the 1999 NBA draft but he was signed by the New York Knicks in 2012. He played in the Big Apple until 2015 when he was sent to the Houston Rockets who immediately waived him. Prigioni ended up playing for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2015 before he returned to Europe where he finished his basketball playing career. He is currently an assistant coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Born in the Cordoba Province, Fabricio Oberto played for the Atenas de Cordoba and was
the 1998 Argentinian League MVP. After winning MVP, he played for Olympiacos in Greek and then in Spain where he played for TAU Ceramica and Pamesa Valencia. He applied for the 1999 NBA draft but was not picked by any team.
In 2005, he signed a deal to play for the San Antonio Spurs, joining teammate Manu Ginobili on the squad. He would become the oldest rookie to play for the Spurs at the age of 31. He was part of the Spurs team which won the 2007 NBA championship. Oberto was traded to the Washington Wizards in 2009 and he also played for the Portland Trail Blazers before finishing his career with Atenas. Oberto played for the 2004 gold medal team and was also part of Argentina’s 2008 Olympic bronze medal-winning team.
Juan Ignacio Sanchez was one of the best point guards from Argentina and was also a member of the 2004 Olympic gold medal-winning team. Born in Bahia Blanca, Sanchez played for Deportivo Roca in Argentina before playing for Temple in the United States NCAA Division 1. He played four seasons for John Chaney and finished his collegiate career in 2nd place in the NCAA’s all-time steals list.
Sanchez was undrafted in 2000 but he found a way to make it to the Philadelphia 76ers roster during the 2001-02 NBA season. Along with Ruben Wollyowski, he was the first Argentinian to play a regular-season game in the NBA. He also suited up for the Atlanta Hawks and Detroit Pistons before returning to Europe for the final years of his playing career.
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