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Basketball: United States Fall Down Before Argentina in Men's Semis
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The United States lost 89-81 to Argentina on Friday, failing to defend the Olympic gold medal for the third consecutive time in Athens.

The United States will fight for the bronze medal against Lithuania, who lost to Italy 100-91 in the other semi-final.

The gold medal match on Sunday will be a rematch of the second and third placing teams of group A in the preliminary round when Italy defeated Argentina 76-75.

This is the third losses for the United States in the tournament as they lost 94-90 to Lithuania and 92-73 to Puerto Rico to finish fourth in the preliminary round.

It was the second time the United States failed to claim the title in the international competitions after they recruited professional players in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. They finished sixth place in the World Championships in 2002.

"They executed great, and making shots, and it was very difficult to beat them in 40-minute game if they can do that," said Larry Brown, head coach of the U.S. team.

"I think the reason they won is because they are familiar with each other and greatly coached. Our best player, Tim Duncan, never got opportunity to hurt Argentina. They did great job to take the game away from him. He got foul trouble, that's critical."
Emanuel Ginobili had 15 of his 28 points in the third quarter to make it 70-57 for Argentina, who defeated the United States 87-80 in the 2002 Worlds.

"It's our first time in the final of the Olympics and I am proud I'm a member of this team," Ginobili said. "I feel extremely happy for our success because we proved the world we are very good team and we made it against the professionals."

The United States, whose all-time record in the international competitions dropped to 73-6, were led by Stephon Marbury's 18 points. Lamar Odom contributed 14 points and eight rebounds.

Gianluca Basile halted Lithuania's come-back efforts with two consecutive 3-pointers for a 11-3 run down the stretch, giving Italy 92-82 lead with over one minute to go.

The point guard led five Italians in double-digits with game-high 31 points.

Arvydas Macijauskas scored 26 points for Lithuania, which finished with bronze medal after an 85-83 loss to the United States in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

In Friday's women's semi-finals, Australia set up a championship match against the United States with an 88-75 victoryover Brazil.

Leading by Seattle Storm's forward Lauren Jackson and Penny Taylor from the Phoenix Mercury, Australia kept their unbeaten run to six games.

The United States, the other team in the tournament with a perfect record, beat Russia 66-62 in an early semi-final match.
(Xinhua News Agency  August 28, 2004) 

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