When Manu Ginobili learned Wednesday that a fellow Argentine, Buenos Aires native Jorge Mario Bergoglio, had just been named pope of the Catholic church, he did not believe his ears.

“We were watching,” said the 34-year-old Spurs guard, “and when we heard the name I said, ‘What? Did we hear it right?’?”

“An Argentinean being in charge of a billion people is not something that happens often. So we were all in shock, and the country is going crazy.”

Ginobili laughed at the suggestion made by Bergoglio, henceforth known as Pope Francis, that the church had gone to “the end of the world” to find him. Ginobili recalled a day early in his Spurs career, when he pointed out his home country on a globe for some of his curious new NBA teammates.

“They looked and said, ‘Wow, that’s way down there,’?” Ginobili said. “I said, ‘Yes, we are basically a few miles from Antarctica.’ So yes, it is basically the end of the world.”

Ginobili believes the new pope is about to put Argentina on the map in a way no sports star ever could.

“Catholicism is the main religion in my country and, of course, it is a big thing,” Ginobili said.