Andres Nocioni was the leader of the Argentina rampage tonight. The Chicago Bulls forward scored 18 points, and also pulled down eight rebounds, as the Sergio Hernandez-trained team seemed to have left the opening game loss to Lithuania well behind.
Having led 21-13 at the end of the first ten minutes, Argentina made the most decisive run early in the second quarter of the game. Carlos Delfino sunk a three-pointer after baskets from Luis Scola and Fabricio Oberta as the South Americans raced a 9-0 spree. Scola, who went on to finish with 12 points capped that run.
“I think it was the best game we’ve played until now,” said Argentine forward Pablo Prigioni, who had seven points for the game. “We executed our strategy.”
Lithuania, Croatia’s next opponents, are surely on a mission at this Olympics. The Baltic giants showed enough grit and determination to prove that, while warding off a superb fourth quarter comeback by the Russians.
Having controlled the better part of the game, Lithuania looked set for a cruise when Kristiof Lavrinovic scored at the start of the quarter for a 71-62 lead.
But Russia hurried to cover the gap, and soon David Blatt’s team tied the scored at 73, and kept themselves on par till 77, when Lithuania staged a 9-2 run to take the game away.
“It’s a good win, there’s no question about it,” Lithuania’s veteran point guard Sarunas Jasikevicius said.
“It puts us in a good position to fight for the first place in the group.
“Let’s try to forget it and think about Croatia. That’s what you need to do in these tournaments, move on to the next.
“We are taking it one more game at a time. We know what we can do. We know what we can’t do. We just take it one game at a time and hope that luck will be with us.”
Australia faced a must-win situation, as they do against Russia, to remain in the race. And achieved just that in grand style.
The Boomers stormed out to a 16-3 lead in the first five minutes, and never looked back. Another run, this time 11-0, late in the second quarter quashed any comeback hopes for Iran.
Brad Newley scored 19 of his game-high 24 points as Brian Goorjian’s team out-rebounded their Asian rivals 39-25. Patrick Mills chipped in with 15, with a 4-out of-6 record in three-pointers.
Skipper Samad Nikkah topped the scoring for Iran with 23 points. Hamed Ehadadi and Hamed Afagh had 15 points each.
“That’s the monkey off our backs,” Newley said after their first win in the competition.
“It means everything to get a win at the Olympics.
“Saturday’s game against Russia is now a knockout game for us. We need to recover, celebrate this one and get ready for them.”
“We knew they were going to come out hard and try to bring back the confidence in their team,” Samad said, before adding: “I think they have a chance to beat Russia.”
Australia 106 (Brad Newley 24, Patrick Mills 15, Chris Anstey 13) bt Iran 68 (Samad Nikkah 23, Hamed Afagh 15, Hamed Ehadadi). Quarterwise Scores: 28-15, 53-29, 75-48
Lithuania 86 (Rimantas Kaukenas 20, Ramunas Siskauskas 16, Sarunas Jasikevicius 12) bt Russia 79 (JR Holden 25, Andrei Kirilenko 17, Viktor Khryapa 11). Quarterwise Scores: 23-24, 44-41, 69-62.
Argentina 77 (Andres Nocioni 18, Carlos Delfino 15, Manu Ginobili 14, Luis Scola 12) bt Croatia 53 (Marko Banic 9, Marko Tomas 9). Quarterwise Scores: 21-13, 40-22, 59-25.
Greece seemed fresh in their memories of that famous 101-95 win over the Americans two years ago when they kept up with their rivals and even led on occasions in the first five minutes of the first quarter. But Kobe Bryant put USA 15-13 up, off a Chris Paul assist and the Americans never trailed after that.
Greece continued to fight and cut down the deficit to eight, but Bryant sunk a three-pointer, to spark an 11-0 run – Chris Bosh coming up with two three-point plays – and steer the Americans to a 51-32 lead going into the changing rooms.
Mike Krzyzewski’s team was in command for the rest of the game.
“We wanted to really keep the pressure on them. We wanted to kind of redeem ourselves,” Bosh said.
“This was kind of like a payback game for us and we knew that people were wondering how we were going to respond, so we tried to play a solid game and stay on them the whole game.”
Bryant and Bosh topped the scoring for the USA with 18 points each. Lebron James contributed 13 points, besides collecting six rebounds.
Having needed the Overtime to beat China in their previous game, Spain played a tight game in defense to keep German superstar Dirk Nowitzki at bay and eventually clinched the advantage.
Nowitzki was restricted to just 11 points, five out of 15 on shooting, as Spain shrugged off an early deficit to gain control.
A 17-0 run that began with 0:38 left in the second quarter, which began when Jose-Manuel Calderon sunk a three-pointer and finished on Jorge Garbajosa’s three-pointer early in the third quarter, titled the scales in favour of Spain. A three pointer each from Rudy Fernandez and Alex Mumbru and Ricky Rubio’s five points, including a three-point play were the other features of this run which took the game away from Germany.
When Germany threatened to close in the gap, late in the fourth quarter, Calderon struck again with three-pointers on two occasions to ensure there were no last minute hitches for his side. The Toronto Raptors Point Guard, who was 3 on 4 in his three-point attempts, topped the scoring for his side with 15 points.
Yao Ming struck big as China took Angola’s number.
It was not that Angola went down without a whimper. The African champions pulled back from a 16-point deficit to trail by just two points at the half-time, but China with Yao in form, pulled away in the second half.
Jonas Kaslauskas’ squad, having suffered two defeats in their previous games, including the heart-breaking loss to Spain in Overtime, came up with a performance that delighted the Wukesong Arena.
Yao had a 10/11 record from both field as well as the stripe for a game-high 30 points. The Houston Rockets star also pulled down seven rebounds.
“It feels great, when you win at the Olympics, in front of your home fans it is special,” Yao said.
“I feel great. We played shoulder to shoulder, hand to hand. We played like a team and we got the win.”
Spain 72 (Jose-Manuel Calderon 15, Alex Mumbru 14, Pau Gasol 13) bt Germany 59 (Steffen Hamann 15, Dirk Nowitzki 11) Quarterwise Scores: 12-15, 39-36, 59-48.
China 75 (Yao Ming 30, Sun Yue 11) bt Angola 68 (Joaqium Gomes 17, Carlos Morais 13). Quarterwise Scores: 28-15, 44-42, 65-51.
USA 92 (Kobe Bryant 18, Chris Bosh 18, Dwyane Wade 17, Lebron James 13) bt Greece 69 (Theo Papaloukas 15, Vasileios Spanoulis 14).
Quarterwise Scores: 20-16, 51-32, 74-54.
On Saturday in group A, Australia take on Russia, who are both 1-2. Croatia, 2-1, meet Lithuania and Argentina, also 2-1 take on Iran.
In grop B, China will take on Germany – both at 1-2 – in a contest that could decide the fourth team to make the quarterfinal from this group. Greece, also at 1-2 play winless Angola and the USA play Spain for top spot in this group.
Last Modified on 23/08/2008 08:28