Argentina, Lithuania to meet
Luis Scola scored 37 points, carrying Argentina to a thrilling 93-89 victory over Brazil on Tuesday and into the quarterfinals of the world championship.
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Overcoming a regional rival guided by the coach who led them to their greatest glory, Argentina advanced to play Lithuania on Thursday. Scola, the Houston Rockets forward who came in as the tournament's leader with 29 points per game, scored 10 of Argentina's final 12 over the last three-plus minutes.
"I know that my team is going to look for me at the end of the game," Scola said. "It's nothing to really think about, you just have to play your game."
Carlos Delfino of the Milwaukee Bucks added 20 points and Hernan Jasen scored eight of his 15 in the fourth quarter for Argentina, which avoided what would have been an unusually early exit from an international tournament.
Marcelo Huertas scored 32 points and Leandro Barbosa had 20 for Brazil, which lost its third close game of the tournament.
The Brazilians are coached by Ruben Magnano, an Argentina native who led his homeland to gold in the 2004 Olympics and silver in the 2002 worlds. His new team lost 70-68 to the United States and had a three-point loss to Slovenia in pool play.
"It was kind of a bad chance for us to meet a very good Argentine team at this time of the championship," Magnano said.
Playing without San Antonio Spurs star Manu Ginobili and the Philadelphia 76ers' Andres Nocioni, the Argentines were in danger Tuesday of elimination before the semifinals for the first time since missing the 2000 Olympics. But Scola wouldn't let them.
"He's so thirsty, playing basketball, never tired of running and fighting for the ball, that we've got to follow him," center Fabricio Oberto said.
Argentina took the lead for good at 77-74 on Leonardo Gutierrez's 3-pointer with 6:39 remaining, but Brazil was always within two possessions. Scola kept knocking down jumpers or scoring inside until Delfino made two free throws for a 91-86 lead with 7.6 seconds to play.
Huertas sank a running 3-pointer, but Scola clinched it with two free throws with 1.2 seconds to go, setting off a celebration by a group of Argentine fans behind the basket who were still singing long after the game ended.
There were nine lead changes and four ties in the first quarter. Brazil made 9-of-13 shots and got 10 points each from Barbosa and Huertas, but Scola and Delfino scored nine apiece as the period ended in a 25-all tie.
Barbosa went to the bench with his third foul with about 2½ minutes left and Argentina opened a six-point lead. But Huertas scored six points in the final 30 seconds, including a four-point play, to help Brazil take a 48-46 lead.
Brazil opened a seven-point lead early in the third quarter, but Scola scored eight straight Argentina points late in the period before Delfino's drive with 1.3 seconds left made it 66-all heading to the fourth.
Lithuania 78, China 67
Linas Kleiza scored 30 points Tuesday to help send Lithuania into the quarterfinals of the basketball world championship with a win over China.
China jumped out to a 16-5 lead, but Lithuania used a 16-2 run in the second quarter to go ahead 36-31 with 3:20 left.
A 16-3 run then put Lithuania up 64-51 entering the fourth quarter. China came within 67-62 with 5:10 left, but Kleiza scored 10 unanswered points to put the game away.
Lithuania was one of three teams that went undefeated through the five preliminary round games. China was the only team to advance with just one win.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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