Part I: Delfino vs. the world

Family tradition, national pride have fueled Argentinean's fire

By Truman Reed

Carlos Delfino
"It is special for me to play for our national team," Delfino said. "It's not just about the players or the coaches or the reporters or the fans; it's about my family."
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images

When the 2010 FIBA World Championships tip off in Turkey later this month, there will be a certain degree of national pride at stake for each of the competitors.

Coming off his first season with the Milwaukee Bucks, Carlos Delfino has always considered the opportunity to represent his native Argentina in international competition a prestigious honor.

Since he began competing for his country at the tender age of 15, though, Delfino has had an additional source of motivation. In fact, he was born with it.

"My father (Carlos IV) was a professional basketball player," Delfino said. "At that time, though, when the National team was being put together, he maybe wasn't quite one of the top 10 or 20 players. He always tried and worked hard to make the national team, but he never did.

"That probably made it even more important to me to make the national team someday. I also have two sisters who have played for the women's national team. When I was playing U-21, one of my sisters was playing for the women's national team. We were able to share some great experiences playing international basketball. So my family's basketball background is something I'm very proud of, and something I think has helped me."

Despite his professional playing background, which led to a career in coaching, Delfino's father wasn't the first member of his family to steer him toward the basketball court.

"My grandfather (Carlos III) wanted to teach me basketball with I was 5, 6 years old," Delfino said. "My father said, `No, he's too young,' but I started with my grandfather. He showed me how to shoot the basketball, how to play the game."

The Definos did a lot of traveling throughout Argentina as Carlos' father changed teams. Carlos V played on a dozen or so youth teams before he reached the age of 15. Then he had the opportunity to play under his father, who retired from playing when Carlos was 16.

Delfino became a member of the Argentinean Cadets National Team, which captured the 1997 and 1998 South American Championship.

From Day One, Delfino took the opportunity to represent his country on the basketball court very seriously.

"It is special for me to play for our national team," Delfino said. "It's not just about the players or the coaches or the reporters or the fans; it's about my family. My grandfather was like, 'Come on, you've got to play.' We grew up thinking like that.

"Especially in the last couple of years, when we see our flag on the top of just about every international tournament, it's a nice feeling. A lot of my Argentinean teammates feel the same way. We believe that representing our families and our country is very important, and we take a lot of pride in that."

Delfino helped Argentina win a bronze medal as a member of the Argentinean Junior National Team in 2001 at the World Junior Championships.

Since moving up to the Argentinean National Team, Delfino has been a linchpin on one of the most successful international teams in the world.

Argentina, known for its commitment to team basketball, won the 2004 Olympic gold medal in Athens, Greece, finished fourth in the 2006 FIBA World Championships in Saitama, Japan and earned the bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.

"Playing for Argentina, we have many stars on the team, but we don't worry about who plays and who doesn't, or who plays where," Delfino said. "Fortunately the guys we have in that group are friends off the court.

"You see all the names and skills on that team, but when we get on the court, we're not thinking about minutes, or our skills. All we think about is winning. That's the main thing. We've had a chance to win many things.

The FIBA World Championship will run from Aug. 28 to Sept. 12, 2010 under the direction of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), Turkish Basketball Federation and the 2010 Organizing Committee in Turkey.

Teams were drawn into four preliminary round groups of six teams each. Teams will then play a round-robin schedule, with the top 16 advancing to the knockout stage.

Argentina will compete in Kayersi in Group A along with Angola, Australia, Germany, Jordan and Serbia.

For the third time since 1986, the World Championship will have 24 competing nations, an increase from 16. As a result, the groups are each playing in different cities, with the knockout round being hosted by Istanbul.

Argentina will be playing without the San Antonio Spurs' Manu Ginobili, who opted to spend his summer with his wife and newborn twin sons.

Delfino, who will turn 28 years old on the second day of the World Championships, will likely shoulder some of the minutes and be expected to fill some of the scoring void created by Ginobili's absence.

You can bet that Delfino will enter the competition with the same, consistent approach he has always brought to the court:

"The main goal in basketball should be to play as a team."

Visit again soon for Part II of this series.