Argentina won its first Olympic men's basketball gold medal by
beating Italy 84-69 on Saturday.
The South American champions, whose previous best Olympic finish
was a fourth place in 1952, avenged their 76-75 loss to the
Italians in the preliminary round.
After ousting the U.S. team of NBA players 89-81 in the
semifinal, Argentina was tipped to win the title although Italy saw
off European champions Lithuania in the other semi-final.
Luis Scola set the tone of the championship game with 25 points
and 11 rebounds for Argentina, which also received lifts from
Emanuel Ginobili's 16 and Alejandro Montecchia's 17.
"It's an amazing feeling. It's unbelievable," said Ginobili, San
Antonio Spurs guard. "After 52 years without a gold medal in team
sports for Argentina, we made it twice in one day."
Argentina lifted the men's soccer crown with a 1-0 win over
Paraguay early in the day.
"I want to cry and at the same time I want to laugh. I can't
wait to go back to Argentina and see the joy on the face of our
people," said Ginobili.
Italy was outscored 24-15 in the fourth quarter, helplessly
watching the Argentines pull away to 78-64 with two minutes left on
"It's the happiest day of my life. My biggest dream comes true,"
"We played in a great tournament, and we won the gold medal.
Athens is the best place in the world."
Matteo Soragna and Gianmarco Pozzecco scored 12 points apiece
for Italy, which was overwhelmed by 46-20 in the paint.
Argentina led 34-25 with balanced offense midway in the second
quarter, but let the Italians cut the lead to 43-41 at the
After tying 51-51 five minutes into the third quarter, Argentina
took a tiny advantage of 60-54 to enter the decisive last 10
In the bronze play-off, the United States downed Lithuania
(Xinhua News Agency August 29, 2004)