Men's hoops quarterfinals roundup
Russia defeated Lithuania behind a 19-point performance from Andrei Kirilenko
Lithuania trailed by as many as 14 points, but came within five in the final minute
Marc Gasol scored 14 points to lead Spain to a 66-59 quarterfinal win over France
LONDON (AP) -- Luis Scola scored 17 points, Manu Ginobili and Carlos Delfino added 16 apiece and Argentina held on down the stretch for an 82-77 quarterfinal win over Brazil in the Olympic men's basketball tournament on Wednesday, setting up a probable rematch with the U.S. in the semifinals.
Argentina lost to the Americans by 29 in the preliminary round finale.
But if the heavily favored U.S. defeats Australia in the late quarterfinal, the Argentines and Americans will meet in the semifinals for the third straight Olympics. Argentina won in 2004 at Athens, and the U.S. Redeem Team avenged that loss four years ago in Beijing on the way to winning gold.
Marcelinho Huertas and Leandro Barbosa had 22 points each for Brazil, which cut an 11-point deficit to three in the final two minutes but couldn't catch Argentina.
After the final horn sounded, Andres Nocioni raised his arms in triumph and he and his teammates began jumping as one near mid-court. Guard Pablo Prigioni grabbed the game ball and punted it into the stands like a soccer goalie.
As the final seconds ticked down, Argentina's fans sang "Cada dia te qui ero mas" (We love you more) to the players.
Ginobili, Scola, Delfino, Nocioni and Leonardo Gutierrez are fondly called "The Golden Generation" in their homeland for winning gold in Greece.
They've got a chance to do it again.
Late in the first half, U.S. stars LeBron James, Kevin Durant and several other American players, all wearing over-sized stereo headphones, walked in and took seats near one baseline to get a closer look at Brazil and Argentina. As soon as the first half ended, James left his seat and walked to the area where both team exited the floor.
As the players filed past, he nodded his head and swung his arms to the music's beat, his actions seeming to send a message: America's next.
Leading by six at half, Argentina, known more for its offensive flair than anything on the defensive end, held Brazil to just 14 points in the third quarter and took a 64-54 lead into the fourth.
Argentina used a 14-3 spurt in the third, a run highlighted by a 3-pointer from Nocioni, to open a 61-46 advantage.
When Ginobili hit a 3 early in the fourth, Argentina led 70-59 and it seemed Brazil was ready to head home and begin preparing to host the 2016 Games in Rio di Janiero.
But the Brazilians, coached by Ruben Magnano, who led Argentina to gold eight years ago, rallied and were within three following Barbosa's 3-pointer with 1:44 to go. But Ginobili, as he has done so many times for his country, responded with a bucket and Scola knocked down two free throws to make it 78-71 with 47 seconds remaining.
Barbosa turned it over on Brazil's next possession and Delfino and Prigioni, who missed time in the tournament with kidney stones, made two free throws apiece to help Argentina hang on and advance.
LONDON (AP) -- About to be eliminated by Spain, France's Nicolas Batum wound up and slammed his arm into Juan Carlos Navarro, hitting him in the groin.
France's Ronny Turiaf had just sent a flailing Rudy Fernandez to the sideline with a hard foul.
"I wanted to give them a good reason to flop," Batum said.
The French went down swinging, not scoring.
Spain players were about the only thing the French could hit in the final minutes, the Spanish holding them to one meaningless basket in the final 6:50 of a 66-59 victory Wednesday that sent the 2008 silver medalists to the semifinals of the Olympic men's basketball tournament.
Marc Gasol scored 14 points, but it was the defense that won this game for the usually high-scoring Spanish.
"We still have to find our flow, we still have to find our best game offensively. But I like the way we were competing today," said Pau Gasol, who had two huge blocked shots down the stretch.
Trailing 57-54 after Batum's basket with 6:51 to play, Spain didn't allow another point until Mickael Gelabale's jumper with 5.5 seconds remaining, ending a two-game losing streak.
Juan Carlos Navarro added 12 points and Pau Gasol 10 for the Spanish, who advance to play Russia on Friday.
Tony Parker and Boris Diaw each scored 15 points for France, which grew frustrated at the finish and committed the two unsportsmanlike fouls in the final half-minute.
"Nobody likes to lose. It's the quarterfinals of the Olympics. Everyone wants to fight for those medals, and sometimes it gets a little out of hand because emotions get involved," Marc Gasol said. "Nobody gets hurt, that's the most important thing and I'm sure they didn't mean to hurt anybody."
The Spanish took the lead for good when Pau Gasol's blocked shot started a fast break that led to Sergio Llull's dunk, making it 58-57 with 5:36 remaining.
France kept misfiring and Spain kept the speedy Parker from getting into the lane as both teams struggled for offense. The highlight of Spain's defensive stand came when both Rudy Fernandez and Pau Gasol had blocks on the same possession, leading to a shot-clock violation.
Pau Gasol then found Marc on a nice pass through traffic inside, extending Spain's lead to 62-57 with 45 seconds to go.
"Tough loss," Parker said. "We had the game. We didn't make baskets we needed to win the game."
Spain beat France last year in the European championship game, the kind of wide-open contest the Spanish usually play. This was a change of pace, a necessary one after their own offensive struggles and coming after two straight poor finishes in this tournament.
Spain hadn't lost an Olympic game to anyone but the United States since 2000 before dropping its last two preliminary round games to Russia and Brazil, the latter raising questions that the Spaniards may have intentionally lost because it kept them on the opposite side of the bracket from the U.S.
Batum said the French felt disrespected that Spain may have been angling to play them, perhaps leading to the frustration at the end. He later wrote on Twitter that he wanted to "apologize for my stupid act at the end."
"I showed a bad image of France and myself," he wrote, "Congrats to team Spain."
Spain was not happy about Turiaf's foul on Fernandez and Batum's punch to Navarro nearly led to an altercation. Navarro made one of the free throws, Pau added two more, and Spain's run was up to 12-0 before France scored again.
"We had open shots, we had good looks," Diaw said. "I had a good look, Nicolas had a good look, but they just didn't go in."
The Spanish kept hopes alive for the gold-medal game rematch against the Americans, who beat them 118-107 in Beijing.
France had won four straight after losing to the U.S. in its opener and seemed in good shape for much of this one.
The French controlled much of the first half, leading by as many as eight, with Parker's speed giving Spain all sorts of trouble. Diaw, his Spurs teammate, scored 10 points and the French were ahead 37-34 at the break.
Spain came out of the locker room with seven straight, going ahead 41-37 on Marc Gasol's 3-pointer with 7:11 remaining in the third. It remained close throughout the period, France bringing a 53-51 edge to the fourth.
LONDON (AP) -- The hugs and high-fives were hard and heartfelt. Even Russia's postgame celebration was physical as coach David Blatt got a bloody nose.
"I was knocked down, but not knocked out," he said.
The Russians are still standing, too.
Dismissed entering these Olympics, they can no longer be ignored.
Andrei Kirilenko scored 19 points and Timofey Mozgov added 17 as Russia, overlooked among the top medal contenders before arriving in England, moved into the semifinals of the men's basketball tournament with an 83-74 win over Lithuania on Wednesday.
Given little chance of being among the final four teams, the Russians will play Spain, a 66-59 winner over France, in Friday's semis -- one win from an unexpected shot at gold.
"This was a big step for our country, for our basketball," said forward Sergei Monya.
Russia won its group in the preliminary round, beating medal favorites Brazil and Spain in the process. Those tight wins gained the Russians a few believers, but most international hoop experts didn't think they belonged in the same company with the Americans, Argentina, Spain, France or Brazil.
"We've been outside that circle," Blatt, who was born in the U.S., said earlier in the tournament.
Russia's now on the inside.
"We're thankful to win," Blatt. "It was not easy. We had to play our heart out."
After trailing by 14, Lithuania was within six in the fourth when Monya, who played for both Portland and Sacramento, hit a 3-pointer for Russia, and Kirilenko, who signed a two-year, $20 million contract with Minnesota this summer, converted a three-point play with 1:42 remaining.
Lithuania, which pushed the U.S. deep into the fourth quarter before losing 99-94 on Saturday, was still within five in the final minute. But a bad turnover and two missed free throws helped Russia go on a game-ending 6-0 run.
On the court afterward, players from two nations who used to play under the Soviet Union's red flag, embraced.
"Tough game," Kirilenko said. "They had a great game, we love them. But unfortunately they had to play us. We wish they were in a different quarterfinal."
Rimantas Kaukenas scored 19 and Darius Songaila 15 for Lithuania, which has not won a medal since getting bronze in 2000.
"If we wanted to win today, we probably had to have 10 or less turnovers," said Lithuania coach Kestutis Kemzura, whose team had 14 miscues. "Russia has shown great basketball in this tournament."
With size and depth, the Russians, who have never won an Olympic medal in basketball as an independent nation, will be a handful for whomever plays them next.
Russia, involved in three games decided by three points or less in the preliminary round, let a 14-point lead in the third quarter dwindle to two early in the fourth when Lithuania 7-foot center Jonas Valanciunas, who will play for Toronto next season, scored inside to cut the Russians' lead to 57-55.
But Monya hit a pair of 3-pointers and Russia's frontline made it tough for Lithuania to get off any shots close to the basket. The Russian big men contained Lithuania's Linas Kleiza, who scored just four points on 1 of 7 shooting.
Despite being cheered on by their flag-waving, face-painted, whistling fans - the international game's version of Duke's Cameron Crazies - Lithuania started poorly. The Lithuanians made just 3 of 16 shots and scored nine points during a dreadful performance in the first quarter.
Russia built nine-point lead and appeared in control. But known for their discipline, the Russians, who beat Lithuania in two exhibition games leading into London, got a little too carefree.
"Stop settling for jump shots," screamed Blatt.
But it was too late, and Lithuania began chipping away with Songaila doing the dirty work down low. The former Washington Wizards forward scored 10 points in the second quarter as Lithuania pulled within 32-27 at the break.
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