Spain, Russia reach men's hoop semis
LONDON (AP) For the third straight Olympics, the United States faces Argentina in the semifinals of the men's basketball tournament.
Argentina beat the Americans en route to the gold medal in Athens in 2004. The U.S. took revenge four years later in Beijing, when it also went on to win the gold.
Now, the Golden Generation of Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola and Carlos Delfino is beginning to feel its age but has the opportunity to go out with a bang.
"We have maybe 10, 5 percent chance of winning but we are going to fight for that," Ginobili said after scoring 16 points in the 82-77 win over Brazil that put Argentina in the last four.
"We are getting older," said Scola, 32. "We know we don't have two more Olympics. We may not have one more. This is a special chance for us."
Kobe Bryant scored 20 points, LeBron James recorded a triple-double and the Americans rolled into the semifinals with a 119-86 win over Australia.
Down by 14 at halftime, Australia opened the third quarter with an 11-0 run that put a shiver in the U.S. squad. But Bryant made consecutive 3-pointers - he finished with 6 3s - and Kevin Durant drove hard to the basket for a thundering dunk to help the Americans regain control.
James finished with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.
Patty Mills had 26 for Australia.
The Gasol brothers dominated under the basket and Spain held France scoreless for nearly seven minutes in a 66-59 win that sent Spain to a semifinal showdown with Russia.
"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, the Los Angeles Lakers center. "France made things very difficult for us, it could have gone either way."
In the first quarterfinal, Andrei Kirilenko scored 19 points and Timofey Mozgov added 17 to help Russia beat Lithuania 83-74.
Luis Scola scored 17 points and Delfino added 16 as Argentina held off a late Brazil rally.
Argentina lost to the Americans by 29 in the preliminary round finale.
"We are going to try to do the same approach, try to turn the ball over less, make a few shots in the second half hopefully, and not let them run. Then if they get inspired and LeBron James starts making 20 3s, there is little you can do," Ginobili said.
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.
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 Janeiro.
Brazil, 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 made two free throws to make it 78-71 with 47 seconds remaining.
Barbosa turned it over on Brazil's next possession and Delfino and Pablo Prigioni, who missed time in the tournament with kidney stones, made two free throws apiece to help Argentina hang on and advance.
Marc Gasol scored 14 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, brother Pau had two huge blocked shots and finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds as Spain came back from two straight defeats.
Spain, silver medalist four years ago in Beijing, turned up the defensive pressure in the fourth quarter to take control of the game against the team it beat to win the European title last year.
Tony Parker and Boris Diaw each scored 15 points for France, which grew frustrated at the finish and committed two unsportsmanlike fouls in the final half-minute.
"Tough loss, we had the game. We didn't make baskets we needed to win the game, we had the game and didn't make the shots that we needed," Parker said.
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.
Russia's celebration was so boisterous that even coach David Blatt got a bloody nose.
"I was knocked down, but not knocked out," he said.
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."