LONDON, United Kingdom (2012 London Olympics): Reigning Olympic gold medalists USA will take on 2004 Olympic gold medalists Argentina, while 2008 Beijing Olympics silver medalists Spain will clash with Russia in the semifinals of the 2012 London Olympics men’s basketball competition.
The USA led 56-42 at the end of the first half and, shortly after the Boomers used an 11-0 run at the start of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 56-53, the Americans scored nine unanswered points of their own for a 72-58 advantage. USA went on to win 119-86.
Lebron James notched a triple double – 14 rebounds with 11 assists and as many points – as Kobe Bryant led the Americans’ scoring with 20 points.
“We played well in first half except for some times when we didn’t get back and Australia got 10 or 12 transition points from that,” USA coach Mike Kzyzewski said.
“We got off to a bad start in the third quarter but my guys stuck with it. Offensive rebounding was a big factor,” he added.
USA take in Argentina in the semifinals, in a repeat clash at the very same stage from 2008 Beijing Olympics, which the USA won 101-81.
Luis Scola’s 17 points and Manu Ginobili’s 16 points with 8 rebounds and 3 assists studded Argentina’s 82-77 win against fellow FIBA Americas team Brazil, exacting revenge for the defeat suffered in the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship gold medal game.
Carlos Delfino also had 16 points, as five players scored in double digits for Argentina.
“We fight hard. We know each other very well. We’ve got experience. We’ve been here multiple times. Regardless, Brazil is a tough opponent. It was very tough to score on them in the second half,” Ginobili said.
“It got tangled and hard and physical but we maintained the effort on the boards and good D, and we played our game. It’s amazing.”
Spain needed a 15-6 fourth quarter run to beat France 66-59 in a repeat result of the 2011 Eurobasket gold medal game.
Marc Gasol had 14 points and 8 rebounds to lead Spain with elder brother Pau Gasol adding a double-double – 11 rebounds and 10 points. Juan Carlos Navarro had a dozen points.
“We are extremely satisfied and proud to be in the Semi-Finals of the Olympics. This was very tough,” Spain coach Sergio Scariolo said.
“To score was not easy tonight. In the second half we were able to raise the level of our defense, we had great second and third efforts from our players,” he said.
“We deserve it at the end of the day because the effort and intensity was remarkable.”
Spain the winners of the 2009 and 2011 Eurobasket will take on the winners of the 2007 Eurobasket Russia in the semifinals.
Russia defeated Lithuania 83-74, thus keeping the latter out of the Olympic semifinals for the first time since they gained independence in 1990.
Andrei Kirilenko studded Russia’s win with 19 points and 13 rebounds with Timofey Mozgov adding 17 points.
“It was a hard-fought, sportive battle between two teams that know each other well, players that have played together and against each other for years and coaches that have gone head to head,” said Russia coach David Blatt.
“We’re thankful we won the game. It was not easy. We fought our hearts out.”
Both the semifinals are scheduled for Friday.