Manu Ginobili plans to play for Argentina in Olympics

Manu Ginobili competed for Argentina in the 2012 London Games. Eric Gay/Getty Images

SAN ANTONIO -- Spurs guard Manu Ginobili plans to play for the Argentine national team at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, according to an announcement from the Argentina Basketball Federation.

Ginobili made the decision just before San Antonio's 112-88 win Wednesday night over the Miami Heat and called Argentine coach Sergio Hernandez to inform him he'd be available for the Olympic Games.

"To say that Manu's availability makes me happy personally is to put it mildly," Hernandez said. "That is not significant. His was a very brave decision and at the same time very correct, from my point of view. He will be able to end his career with the national team at an Olympic Games. This is the most important news for Argentine sport at this moment. Ginobili is a symbol. Welcome Manu. And now we shall enjoy this."

Ginobili turns 39 years old a week before the Olympic Games begin and told Argentine newspaper La Nacion back in the summer of 2014 there was a "98 percent chance that I'll never play again" for the Argentine national team.

Interestingly, Hernandez always maintained optimism Ginobili would be available, telling TyC Sports in December that "to me, he's going to play in Rio. I know he's going to get angry when he watches this, but he knows how I am."

A 14-year NBA veteran, Ginobilli has played internationally for Argentina since 1998, leading the team to a victory over the U.S. team on the way to capturing a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics. Ginobili's emergence has helped the Argentine national team become one of the most successful in the world.

Ginobili led the Argentines to a bronze medal in 2008 in Beijing as well as a second-place finish at the World Basketball Championships in 2002 in Indianapolis and fourth in Tokyo in 2006. The Bahia Blanca native last played for Argentina during the 2012 London Olympics. Ginobili didn't participate in the 2014 Worlds in Spain because of a stress fracture. Ginobili has played in a total of 98 games for Argentina, scoring 1,498 points. The Rio Games mark his 13th official international tournament.

Argentina basketball federation (CABB) president Federico Susbielles called Ginobili a key leader for the team.

"We are happy to receive the news," Susbielles said. "His presence and participation is very important. He has been a decisive leader in our history, and we hope he continues to be in the future."

Ginobili sat out 12 games for the Spurs after undergoing testicular surgery in February, returning March 6 and scoring 22 points in a victory over the Sacramento Kings. In that game, Ginobili became the first player since Zach Randolph in 2012 to miss a month between games and return to score 20 points or more off the bench, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Ginobili, 38, averages 9.4 points, 3.1 assists and 2.7 rebounds with the Spurs.