Argentina beats Brazil 82-77, reaches hoop semis

Associated Press  |  Last updated August 08, 2012
Luis Scola scored 17 points, Manu Ginobili and Carlos Delfino added 16 apiece and Argentina held on down the stretch for an 82-77 quarterfinal win over Brazil in the Olympic men's basketball tournament on Wednesday, setting up a probable rematch with the U.S. in the semifinals. Argentina lost to the Americans by 29 in the preliminary round finale. But if the heavily favored U.S. defeats Australia in the late quarterfinal, the Argentines and Americans will meet in the semifinals for the third straight Olympics. Argentina won in 2004 at Athens, and the U.S. Redeem Team avenged that loss four years ago in Beijing on the way to winning gold. Marcelinho Huertas and Leandro Barbosa had 22 points each for Brazil, which cut an 11-point deficit to three in the final two minutes but couldn't catch Argentina. After the final horn sounded, Andres Nocioni raised his arms in triumph and he and his teammates began jumping as one near mid-court. Guard Pablo Prigioni grabbed the game ball and punted it into the stands like a soccer goalie. As the final seconds ticked down, Argentina's fans sang ''Cada dia te qui ero mas'' (We love you more) to the players. Ginobili, Scola, Delfino, Nocioni and Leonardo Gutierrez are fondly called ''The Golden Generation'' in their homeland for winning gold in Greece. They've got a chance to do it again. Late in the first half, U.S. stars LeBron James, Kevin Durant and several other American players, all wearing over-sized stereo headphones, walked in and took seats near one baseline to get a closer look at Brazil and Argentina. As soon as the first half ended, James left his seat and walked to the area where both team exited the floor. As the players filed past, he nodded his head and swung his arms to the music's beat, his actions seeming to send a message: America's next. Leading by six at half, Argentina, known more for its offensive flair than anything on the defensive end, held Brazil to just 14 points in the third quarter and took a 64-54 lead into the fourth. Argentina used a 14-3 spurt in the third, a run highlighted by a 3-pointer from Nocioni, to open a 61-46 advantage. When Ginobili hit a 3 early in the fourth, Argentina led 70-59 and it seemed Brazil was ready to head home and begin preparing to host the 2016 Games in Rio di Janiero. But the Brazilians, coached by Ruben Magnano, who led Argentina to gold eight years ago, rallied and were within three following Barbosa's 3-pointer with 1:44 to go. But Ginobili, as he has done so many times for his country, responded with a bucket and Scola knocked down two free throws to make it 78-71 with 47 seconds remaining. Barbosa turned it over on Brazil's next possession and Delfino and Prigioni, who missed time in the tournament with kidney stones, made two free throws apiece to help Argentina hang on and advance.
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