While Carmelo Anthony was airborne, delivering another blow in a 3-point barrage, Facundo Campazzo, the diminutive Argentina guard, took the opportunity to deliver one of his own.
It landed just south of the border.
As Anthony crumpled to the floor in front of the United States bench after making his shot, Coach Mike Krzyzewski was the first in a legion who jumped up to protest. Pushing, pointing and posturing ensued and technical fouls were handed out, not to Campazzo for his punch to Anthony's groin, but to Kevin Durant and Juan Gutierrez.
The play had little to do with the United States' 126-97 victory over Argentina, a tight game that turned into a blowout in the third quarter. But it was a sign of what the Americans are in for when the quarterfinals begin Wednesday against Australia.
Teams will be ready to kick, claw and punch - sometimes metaphorically, sometimes not - to move on to the semifinals.
"When you get to the quarterfinals, it's do or die,"...