Argentina's Luis Scola (L) vies for the ball during a Group B match against Iran at the FIBA Diamond Ball for Men in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu Province, on July 29, 2008. Argentina won 81-71.
Olympic champion Argentina was still far from its best form as it defeated Iran 81-71 in the opener of the Diamond Cup in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu Province, on Tuesday.
Argentina lost twice to Spain and once to Lithuania in warm-ups last week, three losses in five days, and was desperate to pick up form with 10 days to go to the Beijing Olympic Games.
But Tuesday's game could not cheer the Argentines up as they failed to get a clear advantage over the Asian champions.
"We didn't play well today. We're still working on to get our best form. We missed lots of open shots and didn't play good defense," said San Antonio Spurs Manu Ginobili, who had 15 points for Argentina.
Iran led several times before Luis Scola scored 13 of his 23 points to level it on 24-24 at the first quarter.
The 2.18-meter center Hamed Ehadadi had 20 points and nine rebounds while forward Samad Nikkhahbahrami having 18, Javad Davari14, to help Iran keep pace with the South Americans.
Argentina managed a 42-35 lead in the first half and 62-52 after three quarters.
Davari scored 12 points in the second half to keep Iran in the game.
"This is a young team. We need more time to be mature. I didn't expect a pretty Olympic result from this team. Maybe you will see a better Iran team at the 2012 London Games," Iran's head coach RajkoToroman said.
(Xinhua News Agency July 30, 2008)