MADRID (FIBA Americas Championship) - The time is quickly approaching for Argentina’s national team players to launch their preparations for the FIBA Americas Championship in Mar Del Plata.
It remains to be seen if stars Luis Scola, Manu Ginobili, Andres Nocioni and Carlos Delfino will be among them because of the insurance quandary caused by the NBA lockout.
"This has to be resolved in 15 days time because all the teams will soon begin training,” Argentina Basketball Confederation president German Vaccaro said to FIBA.com.
“Argentina will start training on July 29.
“In our case, I´m optimistic that Argentina will have all of their players to play in the tournament we are hosting."
Because of the NBA labor dispute, players’ contracts will not be insured by the league.
"We have to find a solution for the players,” Vaccaro said.
"From an institutional standpoint, it would be irresponsible on our part to make the players play without an insurance policy and on the other hand, for them, the players, they need to be insured for their own security, in order to do their job.”
The FIBA Americas Championship will not only be an Olympic qualifying tournament for Argentina.
The two sides that reach the Final will book spots in next year’s London Games.
The Championship in Mar Del Plata will also be the last opportunity for Argentina’s golden generation to compete in front of their own fans.
Scola, Ginobili, Delfino and Nocioni aren’t just players in Argentina.
They are basketball icons.
The four were in the side that won the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics, as was Fabricio Oberto, who has come out of retirement at the age of 36 to play in the event.
Argentina are not the only country affected.
Basketball leaders are working together in the hope of finding a solution.
Vaccaro himself has this week flown to Madrid to meet with Spanish Basketball Federation president Jose Luis Saez because he, too, is considering how to pay for the expensive insurance for several NBA players that have been named in the preliminary squad for EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania.
"I´m here in Madrid to meet FIBA Europe, crucially Jose Luis Saez, a friend of mine and president of the FEB,” Vaccaro said.
“From then on, we want to have collective actions as a block.
“Argentina, particularly, will be interested to know what plan FIBA Europe develop.
“We cannot forget that also, FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann is also working on this, as is Alberto Garcia – the secretary general of FIBA Americas - and people of FIBA Europe like secretary general Nar Zanolin.
“There are several fronts we are tackling in order to find a solution.”
There was already plenty of excitement in Argentina where fans are getting ready for the big games.
The lockout and insurance dilemma has created even more drama.
"Before the lockout, we had everything stipulated with the NBA, considering the number of players, it was obviously much simpler for the insurance company,” Vaccaro said.
“It was a certain amount of money, that even though it was an important amount and a sacrifice for any federation, we knew what it was and it was definitely less than it is now.”
The cost of the insurance?
"We know it´s a lot of money, but we are not sure exactly,” Vaccaro said.
“What we have heard is that a player who has a three-year contract and is not one of the highest earners but an average one, if we had to insure him for the three years, we would be talking about 300,000 US dollars.
“So we are talking about an amount that would be unreachable for any federation.”
Vaccaro says the insurance issue is complex.
The federation of Spain is not the only one that has to insure players in Europe, but France, Germany and others do as well.
"I have heard reports that (Dirk) Nowitzki would play for Germany because he would settle to be insured for a contract of one year,” Vaccaro said.
"More than focusing on it from a global standpoint, the cases are unique in all and everyone of them.
"I believe we have to be respectful of the players and not pass the responsibility onto them.
"We cannot say to the players, ‘insure yourself for less or play without insurance and play the same.’
"I don´t think it´s an interesting or intelligent act from executives.
"What we have to do is find a solution so that the players are all insured and we don´t pass the responsibility onto them or enter into the ‘maybe insure them less, maybe more’ situations.
"We have to respect each and every one of them as individuals because it is their job.”