Tunisia-Argentina Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated August 01, 2012
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Argentina took a step in the wrong direction in its last game, but the team still has its eye on winning a third consecutive Olympic medal. Tunisia has virtually no shot at making the podium, but at least it has been competitive with the world watching. Argentina continues Group A play Thursday versus Tunisia, opening a stretch of two straight games against teams making their Olympic debuts. Coming off a 102-79 victory over Lithuania on Sunday - a rematch of the bronze-medal game in Beijing - Argentina lost 71-64 to France on Tuesday. Manu Ginobili continued his strong Olympic showing with a team-high 26 points - he has 47 through two games - but it wasn't enough against San Antonio Spurs teammate Tony Parker, who scored a team-best 17. "We lost against TP & his boys. They player better, well deserved. Now we face Tunisia on Thu. Gotta keep it up. Chances intact," Ginobili wrote on his Twitter account. Argentina, the gold medal winner in 2004, is tied with Lithuania, Nigeria and France in Group A, one game back of United States. Four of six teams will advance to the quarterfinals, and Argentina is in good position with its victory over Lithuania and Nigeria's lone win coming against Tunisia, 60-56 on Sunday. Argentina, ranked No. 4 by FIBA, will face both of those Olympic newcomers before completing preliminary play Monday against the United States, the gold-medal favorite. Tunisia continues group play after getting routed 110-63 by the United States on Tuesday. The winner of the 2011 Africa Championship was thoroughly overmatched by a team full of NBA All-Stars - coach Adel Tlatli said through an interpreter that the Americans "could have absolutely taken us to the cleaners" if they wanted - but the United States led by just 13 at halftime before a 21-3 second-half run put the game away. "It's a dream for us to see these kinds of players, but now we play with them," forward Makram Ben Romdhane said. If Tunisia is going to have any chance of upsetting Argentina, it will likely need another big game from Ben Romdhane, who scored 22 points Tuesday and is averaging a team-best 17.0 with a tournament-high 11.5 rebounds. Argentina coach Julio Lamas will likely have Luis Scola match up against Ben Romdhane. Scola is averaging 24.0 points - second in the tournament to Russia's Andrei Kirilenko - and 6.5 boards. Argentina has plenty of backcourt depth and experience with Ginobili, Carlos Delfino and New York Knicks-bound point guard Pablo Prigioni, but Tunisia point guard Marouan Kechrid doesn't appear to be intimidated by NBA talent. He scored all nine of his points on 3-pointers during Tunisia's strong first half Tuesday. "We knew that they were going to come out and play hard," U.S. forward Kevin Durant said.
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