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Flashback: 1996 U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball Team Sails Past Brazil 98-75, Advances to Semifinals

  • Date:
    Jul 30, 1996

Anfernee Hardaway scored 14 points and Shaquille O'Neal added 11 points and 11 rebounds as the U.S. Men's Olympic Basketball Team defeated Brazil 98-75 to advance to the medal semifinal round in front of a crowd of 31,740 on July 30 at the Georgia Dome.

The U.S. will face Australia, which surprised Croatia 73-71 earlier Tuesday, in its Aug. 1 semifinal contest.

"Australia is a team that works hard and executes well, and they hustle on the boards. We will be really focused and ready to play against them. You cannot take them lightly," commented USA head coach Lenny Wilkens.

"I think we did a great job in the second half, we came out with real good intensity," stated U.S. guard Gary Payton. "In the beginning we didn't switch and missed easy shots. I think the key was that we came with defense in the second half."

Brazil jumped out to a 7-2 lead and the teams battled for control until Charles Barkley's layup with 11:18 left in the first half gave the U.S. the lead for good 19-17.

Leading 19-18, behind seven points from Scottie Pippen, the USA recorded a 11-3 scoring run to take a 30-22 lead with 7:32 remaining in the opening stanza. Brazil rallied to within three, 30-27, with 6:23 remaining on the first half clock, but a 13-2 run which was primarily fueled by Mitch Richmond, who tallied seven points, helped the USA distance itself from Brazil 43-29 with 3:54 to play in the half.

The U.S. contingent took a 52-36 lead into the locker room at the halftime, and after outscoring Brazil 19-9 over the second half's first 6:06, the USA was in control 71-45. Going on to lead by as many as 27 points, the U.S. finally settled for the 98-75 victory.

The USA defense forced Brazil's offense into 38.4% (28-73 FGs) shooting from the field, while the USA hit 59.4% (38-64 FGs) of their field goal tries. The North Americans also converted on more shots from beyond the 3-point arc, making 42.9% (6-14 3pt FGs) while Brazil shot 33.3% (8-24 3pt FGs) from afar. Both teams were active on the glass with the USA narrowly edging Brazil 38-35 in the rebound column.

In addition to Hardaway's 14 points and O'Neal's 11, the U.S. was aided by 13 points from Pippen, 12 from Reggie Miller and Payton finished with seven points and seven assists.

Olympic veteran Oscar Schmidt led Brazil with a game-high 26 points on 8-of-20 shooting from the field, while Joelcio Joerke pulled down 10 rebounds for the losing side.

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