Flashback: 1992 Men’s Olympic Team Defeats Lithuania 127-76 in Semifinals
Prior to the start of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, three teams were given a chance by the basketball world to challenge the USA's Dream Team. Croatia was one, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was another, and the former Soviet republic, Lithuania, was the third.
The '92 USA team members were already well aware that it was in the semifinals of the 1988 Seoul Olympics when the U.S. was stunned by the Soviet Union, 82-76.
The U.S. men no doubt understood what was now on the line. If they needed further food for thought, Lithuania was a team that featured four of the top six scorers from the Soviet's 1988 Olympic gold medal winning team. Relying on the talents of 7'3" Arvydas Sabonis, 6'5" guard Sarunas Marciulionis, 6'3" Vlademaras Chomicius and 6'6" Rimas Kurtinaitis, Lithuania was no team to take lightly.
Just as had been the case in the quarterfinal game, the American team started strongly. Behind six points from Jordan, the USA jumped out to an 11-0 lead. Lithuania regrouped and closed the gap to 14-8 with just over 15 minutes remaining in the first half, but the U.S. put this one away early by reeling off 20 consecutive points and pushing its advantage to 34-8 with just over nine minutes remaining in the first half. Coasting from there to a 49-30 halftime lead, several second-half USA mini-spurts ended whatever slim hopes the Lithuanians had for upsetting theU.S. and advancing to the gold medal game.
All 12 USA players scored in the 127- 76 semifinal victory, and nine scored in double figures. Michael Jordan paced the U.S. attack with 21 points, Karl Malone added 18, Magic Johnson tossed in 14, and David Robinson finished with 13 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
"This was the way the game should be played -- passing, defense intensity," said USA coach Chuck Daly. "We've never really been pushed. Maybe in the final game, but we will be ready."
"The guys got into this game," remarked Larry Bird, who finished with 10 points, six rebounds and six assists. "After what happen to the girls (losing in the semifinals), we knew we had to watch out. I was surprised how we came out tonight. I thought we might be a little flat."
"We only have six or seven players who are in optimum condition ... but we all knew what the outcome was going to be," said Lithuania assistant coach and Golden State Warriors assistant coach Donn Nelson. "We aren't disappointed, although a defeat is always a defeat. We would have liked to play a bit better. Not even a team made up of the best European players would be capable of beating the current U.S. team."
"Playing against the USA meant a lot to me, it was my dream," said Lithuanian forward Arturas Karnisovas, who plays collegiately in the U.S. for Seton Hall University. "They are my heres, I even brought my camera along to take pictures of them. I had a great time during the game, it was like a show. For them it was just another game, but for us it was very important."