Flashback: 1996 U.S. Men Cruise Past Croatia 102-71, Advance to Quarterfinals
The U.S. Men's Olympic Team, behind a 16-point effort by Mitch Richmond, cruised past Croatia 102-71 on July 28 in its final preliminary round game in front of 30,569 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. With the win, the USA advanced as the top seed from Pool A and will face Pool B fourth place finisher Brazil in quarterfinal action on July 30 at the Georgia Dome.
"I'm very satisfied with the way the game came out, certainly we're building a rhythm as we go along," said U.S. head coach Lenny Wilkens. "Every game we come out the guys are feeling much more comfortable, they're eager to be out there and we're trying to play well. We want to go out there and do as good of a job as we can. I thought tonight our players came out and were aggressive. Defensively we were very good, we made things happen. We can't sit back and wait on anything."
The U.S. opened the game with a 5-0 run and held Croatia scoreless for the first 2:24 of the contest. Croatia's Vladin Alanovic scored his team's first two points at 17:36 and Croatia kept pace with the USA over the next few minutes, trailing by only three, 11-8, with 15:25 remaining in the half.
The U.S., sparked by eight straight points from Richmond, went on a 12-0 scoring run that put the USA in command 23-8 with 13:49 to go. Croatia inched its way back to within 10 points, 28-18, at the 10:24 mark, but the United States increased its lead to 15 at 34-19 with 8:35 on the first half clock. Croatia once again chipped away at the USA's lead and closed to within 10 points, 37-27, with 6:15 to go in the half. The Americans finished the first half's final minutes strong and retired to their locker room at the half with a 57-38 advantage.
Opening the second half with a 21-9 run to take a commanding 79-47 lead, the USA continued to dominate and sailed on to the 102-71 win.
The USA shot 54.2% (39-72 FGs) from the field and 37.5% (6-16 3pt FGs) from behind the 3-point line, while Croatia converted on 46.6% (27-58 FGs) of its shots from the field and 47.1% (8-17 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc. Croatia was outmatched on the glass as the U.S. outrebounded its opponents 41-23 and the USA's tough defense forced 21 Croatia turnovers.
In addition to Richmond's 16 points, Charles Barkley aided the U.S. effort with 14 points and a game high 12 rebounds, David Robinson added 13 points and Karl Malone chipped in 10.
Zan Tabak led Croatia with a game-best 19 points, while Chicago Bull Toni Kukoc added 10 points and 10 assists.