SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, who helped lead Argentina to a bronze medal in the Beijing Olympics, will need surgery to repair a ligament injury in his left ankle.

The Spurs said Friday that Ginobili will have surgery next week. The team will announce a timeline for his return after the surgery.

Ginobili said an MRI of his ankle showed no improvement from a previous exam two months ago. He led the Spurs in scoring last season (19.5 points) and won the league's sixth man award.

"They're going to operate on me," the 31-year-old Ginobili told Argentina's La Nacion newspaper Friday. "It's not worse, which is important. Now, the thing is, it's not better either, and it seems like the only way to repair it completely is arthroscopic surgery."

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had urged Ginobili not to compete in the Olympics unless the injury improved. But he was cleared to play and not only competed in the games, he carried the flag for Argentina at the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing.

Ginobili hobbled off the court during Argentina's loss to the eventual gold-medal winner United States in the semifinal game. He did not play in Argentina's bronze-medal win over Lithuania.

"My plan was to be part of the Olympic games, and I knew that if I suffered from pain they would have to operate," Ginobili told the newspaper. "This isn't something that took me by surprise."

The injury hobbled Ginobili during the NBA playoffs, particularly during the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, when his signature explosiveness was visibly absent.

At the end of the season, Ginobili had an injection in the ankle. Ginobili wore a walking boot for several weeks starting in June after an MRI showed a ligament to be five times the size of the one in his other foot.

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