Argentina wins at buzzer; Spains tops China

Updated: August 17, 2004, 3:04 AM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- Manu Ginobili's off-balance shot left his hand just a split-second before the final buzzer, dropping through the basket to give Argentina a thrilling 83-82 victory over Serbia-Montenegro on Sunday on the first day of Olympic men's basketball.

While Argentina's players mobbed Ginobili, Serbia-Montenegro's coach protested that the shot came after the buzzer. Television replays showed that he released the ball in time.

Ginobili scored 27 points for Argentina, which avenged a defeat in the title game at the 2002 World Championships. A non-call by a referee at the end of regulation sent the game into overtime to help Serbia-Montenegro, then known as Yugoslavia, win.

This time, Argentina prevailed.

The final 10 minutes had all the excitement of a medal-round match. Neither team led by more than four points after Serbia-Montenegro came back from a big early deficit.

Ginobili scored on a drive with 16.4 seconds left and drew Vladimir Radmanovic's fifth and final foul, converting the three-point play for an 81-81 tie. Dejan Tomasevic then drew Fabricio Oberto's fifth foul on a shot attempt from the lane with 3.8 seconds left, but he made only one of two foul shots.

Argentina advanced the ball quickly, and point guard Alejandro Montecchia hit Ginobili with a pass just inside the foul line. Ginobili managed to get off a difficult shot from the right side of the lane that bounced off the glass and in.

Radmanovic led Serbia-Montenegro with 21 points, Igor Rakocevic added 19 and Dejan Bodiroga 16.

Argentina was inspired from the beginning, with Ginobili leading the way.

He made all four of his 3-point attempts in the first quarter, then was fouled behind the arc with 1.5 seconds left in the quarter. He made all three free throws, giving him 17 points in the quarter for a 27-15 Argentina lead.

Ginobili sat for almost eight minutes in the second quarter, and Radmanovic helped keep Serbia-Montenegro close with 12 first-half points. Argentina shot 74 percent in the half but led just 49-39.

A 9-0 run early in the third quarter pulled Serbia-Montenegro to 51-48, and a putback dunk by Radmanovic 23 seconds into the fourth quarter tied it at 61.

Gasol wins matchup with Yao
ATHENS, Greece -- Pau Gasol and Spain won this Olympics' first matchup of NBA stars with an easy win over Yao Ming and China.

Gasol, who plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, had 21 points and 10 rebounds despite missing 6 minutes in the first quarter after having his nose bloodied in a collision. It wasn't long after he returned that Spain went on a 9-0 run to go up 35-23 and the rout was on with the lead reaching as many as 27 points.

Yao, the 7-foot-5 center for the Houston Rockets, had 12 points and eight rebounds. He fouled out with 4:02 to play when he was called for a blocking foul as Gasol tried to dunk over him. Earlier in the game, the 7-1 Gasol drew two charging fouls on Yao.

Gianluca Basile scored 16 points and Italy, which led by as many as 17 points, held on despite failing to score over the final 2½ minutes. Kirk Penney, who played in college at Wisconsin, led New Zealand with 20 points.

Lithuania beat African qualifier Angola. The Lithuanians attempted 50 free throws, making 32 of them, as Angola committed 37 fouls.

Italy holds off New Zealand
ATHENS, Greece -- Gianluca Basile scored 16 points and Italy, which led by as many as 17 points, held on for a 71-69 win over New Zealand Sunday despite failing to score over the final 2½ minutes.

Matteo Soragna scored as the shot clock expired with 2:30 left, giving Italy a 71-62 lead. New Zealand scored seven straight points, getting within two on a pair of free throws by Sean Marks with 41 seconds left.

Basile missed a 3-point attempt with 20 seconds left and New Zealand had a chance to tie, but Phillip Jones lost the ball out of bounds as he started to drive to the basket with 2.5 seconds left. Massimo Bulleri of Italy then missed two free throws, the second on purpose, and New Zealand couldn't get off a good shot at the buzzer.

Giacomo Galanda added 15 points for Italy, which beat the United States by 17 in a pre-Olympic exhibition.

Kirk Penney, who played at Wisconsin, led New Zealand with 20 points, including five 3-pointers.

Lithuania overcomes 15 3-pointers from Angola

ATHENS, Greece -- Eurelijus Zukauskas and Kristof Lavrinovic each scored 15 points, and Lithuania held off Angola's 3-point shooting for a 78-73 victory Sunday in round-robin play.

Angola went 15-for-29 overall from behind the arc and led by as many as 13 points in the first half before its foul trouble started to mount. Lithuania took advantage, outscoring Angola 32-6 from the free throw line.

Angola's 3-point barrage kept it close, but Lithuania took the lead for good with 1:39 to go in the third quarter and led by as many as 10 points in the fourth.

Zukauskas had 11 rebounds as Lithuania, which has won three straight Olympic bronze medals, finished with a 47-21 advantage on the boards.

Miguel Lutonda had 17 points to lead Angola, which committed 37 fouls to Lithuania's 20.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press