SANTA CLARA, Calif. – A lot has been said about all the prominent sporting events happening at the same time in the Bay Area this week.
Argentina will face Chile on Monday night at Levi’s Stadium in a rematch of the 2015 Copa America final, but it’s not the only affair driving international attention. Between the Copa America Centenario game, the San Jose Sharks comeback on the NHL Stanley Cup series against the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday night, and the second game of the NBA finals on Sunday, there’s plenty to chew from.
Gerardo Martino, La Albiceleste’s head coach is aware and pleased to be part of such an eventful three days. The Argentine manager is a self-declared NBA fan and is following the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors series closely, fittingly with game two in Oakland.
But don’t count on him extracting tactics from basketball.
"I watch basketball because I like it, and not because I want to get anything out of it,” confessed Martino in the official Copa América Centenario pre-match press conference at Levi’s Stadium. “I've never watched it as other coaches do in order to identify similarities between both sports.
I just watch it because I like NBA basketball but I honestly don't know anything about [tactics from] it.”
Martino didn’t scape the pertinent comparison between NBA MVP Stephen Curry and four times Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, who’s still questionable for Monday’s game.
“I think he is a very difficult player to duplicate, because he makes incredible things that are everlasting [on the court],” Martino said while praising the Warriors point guard. “He performs plays game after game that his opponents know in advance he's going to do, and he's still able to perform them.”
While Martino is going to wait until his team’s last practice on Sunday, before facing Chile, to make a decision on Messi’s availability for Monday, media and fans expecting to see the Argentinean captain at Sunday’s NBA Finals game two might be disappointed. The game between Warriors and Cavs will begin at 5 pm PT, half an hour before Argentina’s training session.
“The short amount of time I have to possibly be able to watch it, it’s just when Mexico and Uruguay play [for Copa América Centenario’s Group C], and one of those teams could be our next rival [in quarterfinals],” said a confident Martino.