USA Men Ready For Test Versus Argentina In Olympic Quarterfinals
Rio de Janeiro
Simply stated, after completing preliminary round play on Monday, it's now win or go home time for the eight men's teams advancing the medal round quarterfinals.
Fittingly, it what may be the most balanced Olympic men's basketball tournament ever, it came down to completition of the very last preliminary round game before anyone knew which eight teams would be advancing and what the quarterfinals matchups would be.
Only after Croatia rallied from a first quarter deficit to claim a 90-81 victory over Lithuania in the last preliminary round game Monday night, was the medal round field set.
Wednesday's Olympic men's basketball quarterfinals pairings feature Australia (A2) playing Lithuania (B3) at 10 a.m. EDT, Spain (B2) meets France (A3) at 1:30 p.m. EDT, the USA (A1) will square off against Argentina (B4) in a 5:45 p.m. EDT game and Croatia (B1) will face Serbia (A4) in the day's nightcap at 9:15 p.m. EDT.
The quarterfinals winners advance to Friday's semifinals which will see the the USA-Argentina winner play the Spain-France victor, while the Australia-Lithuania winner will meet the Croatia-Serbia winner.
The USA finished off pool play with a 100-97 win over France in a game not as close as the score would indicate. Currently averaging 104.8 points a game, Kevin Durant leads the U.S. averaging 16.8 points and 4.4 rebounds a game, four-time Olympian Carmelo Anthony is adding 15.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, Kyrie Irving is contributing 12.6 point and 6.0 assists a game and Paul George is the fourth U.S. player averaging in double-figures, scoring 11.6 points a game.
Also contributing are USA big men DeAndre Jordan, 8.8 points and 4.8 rebounds, and DeMarcus Cousins, 8.6 points and 5.2 rebounds, and Klay Thompson, who erupted for 30 points in the USA's win over France and is currently scoring at an 8.2 points per game clip.
USA and Argentina are no strangers to compelling games.
Argentina in 2004 joined the U.S. and the Soviet Union as the only teams to claim Olympic gold. Argentina, which had lost a pair of games to the USA at the 2003 Americas Olympic Qualifier, including a lopsided 106-73 win the gold medal clash, downed the Americans 89-81 in the Olympic semifinals on Aug. 27, 2004, and went on to beat Italy 84-69 to win gold.
However, the Americans have won three straight since, taking a game in the 2008 Olympics 101-81, and recording a pair of wins over Argentina in the 2012 Summer Games. Winning 126-97 in the 2012 preliminary play, the USA led 60-59 at halftime, but a 42-point third quarter explosion that included five 3-pointers from Durant helped the USA take control and pave the way to a 126-97 win over Argentina. Durant shot 8-of-10 from 3-point to lead the USA with 28 points.
Later in the 2012 London Olympics the USA made 18-of-42 3-pointers to finish off Argentina 109-83 in the 2012 semifinals to advance to the gold medal game. Leading by seven points at halftime, Durant sank two 3-pointers in an 8-0 run in the third quarter that gave the USA some breathing room, 59-46, at 6:28, then sank two more in the stanza to help the USA take a 74-57 lead into the fourth quarter. The U.S. went on to knock down nine threes in the final stanza, including four from Anthony to run away with the win. Durant finished with 19 points on 5-of-10 shooting from 3-point, Anthony was 4-of-8 from deep on his way to 18 points and six rebounds and James added 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Most recently, the USA opened its nationwide 2016 USA Basketball Showcase presented by Verizon exhibition tour with a 111-74 victory against Argentina on July 22 in front of a sold-out crowd at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Durant scored a game-high 23 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-9 behind the 3-point line, Carmelo Anthony poured in 14 points and George notched 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Nocioni led Argentina with 15 points, Ginobli finished with 11 points and Scola added 10 points.
Argentina is led by four-time NBA champion and four-time Olympian Manu Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs). Argentina finished runner-up at the 2015 FIBA Americas Tournament led by four-time Olympian Luis Scola, 21.1 points and 10.1 rebounds, former NBA player Andres Nocioni, 16.7 points and 9.0 rebounds, and Facundo Campazzo, 10.7 points and 5.9 assists.
Argentina finished 3-2 in the 2016 Olympics Group B prleiminary play and was the #4 seed after the FIBA tie breaking formula was used.
In Rio, Campazzo leads the Argentines averaging 16.4 points a game and has made 14-of-40 3-pointers. Nocioni is adding 15.6 points and 6.2 rebounds, Ginobili is scoring at a 15.2 points per game clip and Scola is recording 14.8 points and 8.0 rebounds a game.