Argentina tops Brazil in OT to set up battle of unbeatens

Updated: August 30, 2007, 12:47 AM ET news services

LAS VEGAS -- Argentina, which trailed by 17 points early in the second half, scored the last six points of regulation and beat Brazil 86-79 in overtime on Wednesday to remain unbeaten in the FIBA Americas tournament.

Argentina (6-0), which had already secured a semifinal berth, will close the second round Thursday against the United States, which also remained undefeated with a 118-79 victory over Uruguay on Wednesday night.

Regardless of the outcome of the matchup of unbeatens, Argentina did what it had hoped to accomplish: avoid the U.S. in the semifinals. They will finish as the first and second seeds and can't meet until the championship game.

The top two teams in this tournament receive berths in the Beijing Olympics and the third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishers advance to an Olympic qualifying tournament next July.

Luis Scola, who signed with the Houston Rockets, had 23 points and 12 rebounds for Argentina.

"The United States really dominates," Scola said. "They have a really good team. Everybody is really committed but we are committed, too. We go out there and play to win like we play every game else. Maybe we lose by 50, maybe we win, who knows, but we have to go out there and compete. That's why we are here."

Scola had 11 points in the fourth quarter, including the first and last of the six straight that closed regulation and tied the game at 71. His free throw with 1:01 to go tied the game and Brazil (3-3) missed two shots at the win in the final 18 seconds.

Paolo Quintero, who had 19 points, hit a 3 with 2:24 left in overtime that gave Argentina the lead for good at 79-76, and Argentina scored on four its last six possessions as Brazil missed four shots and a committed a turnover in the final two minutes.

Brazil's Leandro Barbosa, who plays for the Phoenix Suns, entered the game as the tournament's leading scorer with a 23.3 average. He had 15 points at halftime, but solid defense by Carlos Delfino, who plays for the Toronto Raptors, and foul trouble limited him to four points in the second half and overtime. He went 0-for-7 from the field in the final 25 minutes, including missing a 3-pointer at the regulation buzzer.

Marcelo Machado had 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for Brazil, which closes the second round against Uruguay. A win would clinch a semifinal berth and Brazil could still advance with a loss in some tiebreaking scenarios.

In other action on Wednesday:

Puerto Rico 92, Venezuela 63

Larry Ayuso hit half of Puerto Rico's 12 3-pointers and scored 25 points in a victory over Venezuela.

The win means Puerto Rico (2-4) still has a chance to reach the semifinals. Puerto Rico would have to beat Canada in its final second-round game Thursday and then prevail in a two- and possible three-team tiebreaker.

Puerto Rico could still finish fifth even with a loss to Canada on Thursday.

Hector Romero had 11 points for Venezuela (1-5), which had been eliminated from the semifinals but could still find its way into a multi-team tiebreaker for fifth place with a victory in its closing game against Mexico on Thursday.

Ayuso finished 6-for-10 from 3-point range and Puerto Rico was 12-for-29 from beyond the arc. Puerto Rico entered the game third in the tournament in 3-pointers with 9.8 per game, behind only the United States (13.5) and Argentina (11.1).

Ayuso, who played at Southern California, hit four 3s in the first half as Puerto Rico went up 47-35 and the lead reached as many as 31 points.

Angelo Reyes had nine points and 13 rebounds for Puerto Rico, while Peter John Ramos added nine points and 10 rebounds. Carlos Arroyo, who plays for the Orlando Magic, had 13 points, including three 3-pointers, and seven assists.

Canada 97, Mexico 80

Canada, the team without a star, needs one more win to reach the semifinals of the FIBA Americas tournament.

Levon Kendall and Denham Brown, two former Big East players, both had double-doubles in Canada's victory over Mexico.

A victory over Puerto Rico on Thursday in the final game of the second round would mean a semifinal spot for Canada.

"This was huge because we gave ourselves a chance to get there," said Kendall, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds. "We knew we clinched at least fifth today with the win and now it's the same tomorrow, another must win to get to the semifinals."

Kendall, who played in the NCAA tournament all four of his years at Pittsburgh, got Canada (3-3) going in the second quarter -- again.

The 6-foot-10 forward had six points, six rebounds and two assists in the 22-5 run that gave Canada a 47-29 lead with 31 seconds left before halftime. It was the third straight game Kendall came into the game and gave his teammates a lift.

Canada's rough first quarter against Mexico (1-5) was because of poor shooting. Canada made seven of 25 shots in the opening 10 minutes and trailed 22-21. Kendall came in, tied it right away with a shot in the lane and after an exchange of baskets, the deciding run started and it was all Canada the rest of the way as it led by as many as 27 points.

The loss was the sixth straight for Mexico since a win over Puerto Rico on the opening day of the tournament.

Brown, who played on Connecticut's national championship team in 2004, had 11 points and 11 rebounds. Canada had six players score in double figures and it finished with a 61-30 rebound advantage.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.