Preview >> USA - Argentina Set To Square Off Once Again
The U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team advanced to the semifinals where they will face Argentina for the third time in 20 days and for the third straight Olympic semifinals. The USA men beat Argentina 86-80 in an exhibition on July 22, and 126-97 in the final game of pool play in London.
After going 3-2 and finishing third in Group A, Argentina defeated Brazil 82-77 in the quarterfinals, to advance to the semifinals. Luis Scola led the Argentines with 17 points, while Manu Ginobili and Carlos Delfino each added 16 in the win over Brazil. Andres Nocioni scored 12 points and Juan Gutierrez had 11 to balance Argentina’s scoring attack. Scola and Ginobili have carried much of the load for Argentina as they are the squad’s two leading scorers (19.7 per game for Scola, 19.3 per game for Ginobili) and two leading rebounders (6.3 for Ginobili and 5.0 for Scola). Scola and Ginobili are shooting over 50 percent from the field at 55.7 percent and 50.7 percent, respectively, while Ginobili has yet to miss from the charity stripe, shooting a perfect 30-of-30 through six games.
Argentina qualified for the Olympics by winning as host at the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship. They defeated Brazil 80-75 in the gold medal game to win its second Americas championship. Luis Scola was named MVP of the tournament after averaging 21.4 points per game as Argentina went 9-1.
The USA is 5-1 all-time against Argentina in the Olympics, and will meet in the semifinals for the fourth time, including the third consecutive Olympics. The U.S. most recently defeated Argentina 126-97 in the preliminary round in 2012. This matchup will serve as a semifinals rubber match as the U.S. beat Argentina 101-81 in the semifinals in Beijing in 2008. In 2004, Argentina beat the U.S. 89-81 in the semis to prevent the USA from playing for its fourth straight gold medal and ensure that the U.S. would not win gold for the first time since NBA players were allowed to compete in 1992. The U.S. beat Argentina in preliminary play in both 1996 and 1948. In 1952, the U.S. defeated Argentina 85-76 to advance to the gold medal game. The USA’s 59-57 win over Argentina in prelims in 1948 was the closest any country would come to defeating the U.S. in the Olympics until finally falling to the USSR in 1972.
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Chris Collins (U.S. workout coach/scout & Duke University assistant coach)
Thoughts on playing Argentina again?
Just like most U.S.-Argentina games, I think it’s going to be a great game. You’re playing a team that has as good a chemistry and as competitive spirit as any team in this tournament. With Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, (Andres) Nocioni, those guys are in their final Olympics, you know you’re going to play a team that’s going to play for 40 minutes. They are going to scrap and claw and we’re going to have to play very well to beat them.
Anytime you play Argentina, you have to do a good job of making Scola and Ginboli work for their points, but they’re going to score some points. The guys we have to do a great job on are (Carlos) Delfino, Nocioni, (Pablo) Prigioni. We can’t let them have a third and fourth scorer where they’re scoring 90 to 100 points. If we can limit it to just Scola and Ginobili, make them work hard to get their 20 points and take away the other guys, I think we’ll be in good shape.
How complicated is it going to be to see Argentina a third time in three weeks?
The main thing is that they are better together then they are individually. Individually you have two of the greatest international players of all-time in (Manu) Ginobili and (Luis) Scola. They make each other better and they have the heart of a champion. We have had two tough games with them and we expect another tough game on Friday. Is there anything you can learn from watching Argentina games on film?
(Pablo) Prigioni didn’t play last game and Campazzo played really well. Pretty much they do what they do. They are not going to change a whole bunch because they are one of the best teams in the world doing what they do. It will be a great test for us.
They’re smart, they’re really good and we just have to be ready for anything.Does playing Argentina for a third time n a short amount of time help motivate the team?
For us, it’s the semifinals. You shouldn’t need any other motivation. The fact that they’re (Argentina) so good should make us even more prepared, not anything else. They’re (Argentina) just good, they’re really good and it’s the semifinals. It’s really the same thing that we did in Beijing, we played them in the semis there and that was a heck of a game. You’ve talked about how different the international game is for your guys…
That’s why it’s never a sure thing. It’s never a sure thing, but if it was in the NBA we would have the advantage in how the game is (played)…the ball; how the game is administered; it’s 48 minutes; all those things. Really you’re always playing an away game, an away type of game, but we’ve gotten as accustomed as we can to it so we’re more prepared than most USA teams in the past for that and we were in Beijing too. But as the guys who have played now longer they’ve become more and more familiar with it. You’ve been in so many pressure situations, is this the time of your life or is it to intense to think of it in terms of happiness or joy?
I’m just focused as a competitor. That’s what I try to do. On this one event against Argentina I think you don’t focus on the gold medal right now, you have to treat this game as a championship game, a seventh game, so I get blinders on with everything. It’s a huge game and I’ve been fortunate enough to be in a lot of huge games and this is the next one. I’ve got my own ritual for that and I try to stay with that then I’m the same in all those games. I think there’s a discipline that you develop over time by being in situations, just like our players have. About the USA team being more involved in the Olympics than past teams:
I think the ’92 team would have liked to have been out more, the security issues in 1992 in Barcelona prevented them from doing a lot of stuff, but those guys were great guys. Since we’ve been in the program, for 2008 and 2012, all of our guys want to be out. We even adjusted practice yesterday to go earlier even though it was a late game so that guys could go to our women’s game and other events. I have good guys on his team, they’re good guys and they appreciate the excellence in all these sports around them and they want to see the great athletes from all sports so it’s a good group, they get it, they get it.