Americans Get Rematch With Argentina

The United States got the only team it really wanted in the semifinals, the last team to defeat it on the Olympic stage. Four years ago in Athens, Argentina delivered the final salvo to a flawed U.S. team that featured Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, no point guard, no perimeter shooters and a coach who had checked out after a debut loss to Puerto Rico.

That the Americans even made it to the Olympic semifinals in 2004 still amazes LeBron James. "We didn't play well," James said this week. "We got to the semifinals, but we didn't play well. We didn't have a leader. We just wasn't a good team and we got to the semifinals, still, because of our individual abilities."


I knew I should've tried to play for the Virgin Islands. (AP Photo)

Argentina defeated the U.S., 89-81, in 2004 before eventually winning the gold medal. It was the first nation to beat a team of American pros in the 2002 world championship and reveled even more in the Olympic victory. Afterward, point guard Pepe Sanchez said the Americans needed to quit making excuses about why they lost to Argentina, "It's always something. It's the officials. We didn't send our best players."

Now that they meet for the rematch, there is no doubt about the quality of this U.S. team, which has won its first six games by an average of 32 points. The Americans are again an overwhelming favorite, but this time, it appears to be justified by the effort on the court and not the (hard to spot) names on the back of the jerseys.

Argentina isn't necessarily expecting a repeat of 2004 on Friday. "We know they are, by far, the best team in this tournament. We are going to try to have our best game and try to go for a miracle," Manu Ginobili said. "They have enough talent, strength and desire, after what happened in the last tournament, to win it. But we're going to have to play a perfect game and that's probably not going to be enough. They are going to have to play a bad game, too. We're going to try to do our best."


Will we hug like this after the U.S. game? (REUTERS/Tim Wimborne)

Ginobili appears to have recovered from the sore ankle that limited him during the San Antonio Spurs' playoff run. And while Argentina has several other current and former NBA players on the team - Andres Nocioni, Fabricio Oberto, Luis Scola and Carlos Delfino - its team is much different. Sanchez and Walter Hermann retired from the national team, limiting Argentina's depth. But it has won five in a row since losing its debut in the Olympics against Lithuania.

The U.S. has already avenged a world championship loss to Greece, thumped world champion Spain and brushed back the only team to challenge it in exhibition games, Austraila. But Argentina is a team the Americans have targeted for some time, even after beating the team in the bronze medal game in 2006. "We are fired up for this game and we are fired up because it's the game before the gold medal game. We're one step closer," Carmelo Anthony said. "I can't wait to get over that hump. To be a champion you have to beat a champion. They still have the gold medal, no matter who won the world championship in '06. We have to go out there and take that from them."

U.S. Coach Mike Krzyzewski warned about fans getting overconfident following the Americans' lopsided wins this tournament. "You know as well as I do, anybody can lose. Our guys do not feel that way. When you start saying easy (wins) and impossible to lose, we're going back to those few years ago where we're arrogant, we don't respect and we don't know. We're past those times."

By Michael Lee |  August 22, 2008; 5:10 AM ET
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Comments

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They'll be crying 'no mas' by the 4th quarter just like the rest of them. USA by 18.

Posted by: mark | August 22, 2008 7:34 AM

It is our karmic destiny to humiliate Argentina today on our way to the gold, it will happen.

Posted by: Wizzy | August 22, 2008 8:18 AM

Go 'head, Team USA -- put the smackdown on those gaucho bamas.

Posted by: iceberg | August 22, 2008 9:58 AM

LOL! Argentina crushed from the jump, it's over already unless they can make a run with treys.

Posted by: Wizzy | August 22, 2008 10:42 AM

i dont wanna hear any excuses from pepe sanchez or the team about manu's injury either.

Posted by: truthsayer | August 22, 2008 11:21 AM

So I was off by 2. Crushed by 20.

Posted by: mark | August 22, 2008 12:13 PM

It's OUR game. The rest of the world is full of pretenders. Let's put to rest the thouht that the rest of the world has 'caught up'. Sure. Just like we caught up to Brazil in soccer or India in cricket. All we needed to do was take it seriously. Game over.

Posted by: mark | August 22, 2008 12:17 PM

What a surprise. A pic of Ginobili grimacing in pain on espn's front page. Maybe he hit his head on one of his flops.

Posted by: mark | August 22, 2008 12:28 PM

Jason Kidd looked horrible out there, CP & Deron have been fine, no need to send Gramps out there.

Posted by: Wizzy | August 22, 2008 12:37 PM

This game was scary. USA resorted back to shooting long J's and one on one. Everybody knows that formula can't work....everybody except for the Wiz, that is.

Posted by: DC Man88 | August 22, 2008 3:10 PM

Good move by the Celtics to sign Darius Miles. He might not have anything left, but it's worth the risk. Plus there's no way that Garnett and Pierce let his attitude be a distraction.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2008 3:51 PM

Well so much for the Celtics not signing Bill Walker:

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=AnU2u7dv8k25Qt2N4OwbjZiLvLYF?slug=ap-celtics-walker&prov=ap&type=lgns

I don't know about the rest of you but if this guy makes the roster, I'll be curious to see how much he'll contribute this season. If it's anything significant, I'm going to be pissed.

Traded for cash?

Posted by: WizSkin | August 22, 2008 8:22 PM

I would think the signing of DMiles makes it pretty tough for Bill Walker to make the Celtics' roster. DMiles would have looked pretty good in a Wiz uniform backing up CB.

Posted by: oddjob | August 23, 2008 11:04 AM

Miles' entire game has always been dependent on raw athleticism. It remains to be seen whether his knee injuries have robbed him of too much. It's one thing to be healthy enough to perform individual workouts and drills, it's another thing entirely to be healthy enough to play full speed over an 82 game season. Plus, he's said all the right things in interviews, but we've seen head cases do that before, only to revert to form when the actual game pressure is on.

That said, signing Miles to what is reportedly a non-guaranteed deal (basically, a training camp contract) is a good, low risk move for Boston. If things go south they can cut him loose with no real loss.

Posted by: kalorama | August 23, 2008 2:25 PM

I want the US to win but man is Spain getting hosed by the refs.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 24, 2008 2:55 AM

go USAS. but its a real shame that Spain is getting jobbed by the refs.

Posted by: FreeDC | August 24, 2008 3:06 AM

I'm happy for the USA squad, they beat a tough Spanish team. Marc Gasol could be a bruiser in the NBA, I think Memphis will be really happy with him. Juan Carlos Navarro showed why the Wizards were interested in him in the first place; and Ricky Rubio is a great young talent. maybe not an NBA-type player, but for a 17 year old to play with that much poise against the best in the world is impressive.

everybody talks about how great the dream team was, but they didn't have competition like this. basketball is now definitively an international sport, and I'm proud of how the USA team represented our country.

Posted by: satch | August 24, 2008 5:50 PM

I thought the refs were terribly inconsistant, and equally bad for both sides.

Posted by: rbpalmer | August 24, 2008 6:18 PM

Gilby really missed out by not being in this Olympics with the rest of the elite players. If healthy, starting, and playing well in teh Olympics, I think Gilby would have propelled to probably a middle tier star player in the NBA.

Posted by: DC Man88 | August 24, 2008 10:35 PM

I'd agree the Miles signing is probably a good gamble for Boston. Not a lot to loose and a potential big upside.

Not many of the purely athletic players do get to go through a whole career without having to adapt their games after a major injury. Miles won't be the first to have to prove he can adapt his game to not being a pure dunking machine.

But if he can't Boston can just get rid of him with little cost. If he does, he helps them possibly fill a need at the three.

It was nice to see the USA basketball team have to respond to be given a game. Ref'ing in international ball is possibly even worse then the NBA. I'm one of the few on this site old enough to know what Doug Collins was talking about when he refered to the heartbreak of the 72' games.

The refs made USA basketball replay the end of that game after they had won and then the USSR scored on the replayed end and won the Gold.

In comparison, even as bad as these refs appeared to be in a Gold Medal game, this ref'ing was great.

As much as Coach K has gotten under my skin in the ACC, the guy is even better then the legendary Dean Smith at working ACC Refs for his benefit, it was a nice gesture by the team to hang their medals around his neck.

I think it's kind of a strange thing in all sports that coaches and staff don't get medals of some kind for all of their hard work. It's not an easy thing to get a group of Allstars to play team basketball, but this staff did do it.

It sure looks like D Wade is healthy again after his performance for team USA. In many ways he was the difference maker. No other team in the world had anything like him. He really played some good all around basketball.

Posted by: GM | August 25, 2008 11:37 AM

And I'd agree with Wizzy, Jason Kidd is starting to really show his age on the court.

His inclusion on this team may have had as much to do with attitude and getting these guys to play in the style that coach K wanted as his ability at this point.

But I really think Dallas made a bad deal to get him, unless they are looking toward having that cap space available after the deal expires. But he sure is starting to look old out there.

Posted by: GM | August 25, 2008 11:49 AM

There was a topic that was brought up a couple of weeks ago about the same Miles being in a Wizards uniform. As usual there were people that trashed that idea before giving it a thought. And now we are liking the Celtics pick up. What's the difference?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 25, 2008 12:15 PM

The difference is that championship teams with strong leadership can take a gamble on an talented but injury prone, potential locker room cancer. Pierce and Garnett will not let Miles be a distraction. He will either fall in line with the rest of the team or get kicked to the curb. Comparisions between different sports is never exact, but look at how Randy Moss fell in line with the rest of the Patriots last year. It was because that team has strong leadership and they are competitive enough to keep him interested. And besides, the last thing the Wizards need to get is more injury prone. With all the injuries this team has had and with Abe not wanting to go into the luxury tax, they can't risk a roster spot & team salary on anybody that has a good chance of getting injured.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 25, 2008 1:11 PM

"What's the difference?"

The difference is that people were suggesting signing Miles to a multiyear, guaranteed contract, as opposed to the non-guaranteed, training camp deal the Celtics signed him to.

Posted by: kalorama | August 25, 2008 1:25 PM

"The difference is that people were suggesting signing Miles to a multiyear, guaranteed contract, as opposed to the non-guaranteed, training camp deal the Celtics signed him to."

Let's say we are looking at the same deal. Are you still oppose of him being a Wizards?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 25, 2008 3:01 PM

I believe I said at the time his name first came up, that anything more than a 1-year non-guaranteed deal (which, reportedly is what Boston signed him to)would be too big a risk.

People only seem to remember what they want to remember.

Posted by: kalorama | August 25, 2008 3:06 PM

Check out www.dalockerroom.com for the latest in sports, music, politics and women....

Posted by: Wzrds29 | August 25, 2008 3:08 PM

Washington DC: As a DC homer, I wanted Gilbert Arenas on the Olympic team. After watching the games and how the team played, I think it is clear that the international game is not for him. I hope he is not part of the next team, or better, he changes his game to be more team-oriented which would make him a better Wizard as well. Maybe Caron can be next!

Michael Wilbon: I hadn't made that connection at all, but that's a very smart point...I'm leaning toward your point of view, that it's simply not his style of play, which is interesting for the Wizards...Quite possibly, Gilbert can play wonderfully again for the Wizards, but certainly not international play. Wonder if Gil watched any of these games and becomes introspective at all.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 25, 2008 4:20 PM

For a clue to that I'd go back and look at the 5 games before Gil re-injured the knee last year. In those games he was really playing the kind of ball the team needs him to play.

My quess is that Gil's like a lot of guys who can almost score at will. As they are in the league longer they see that they can pick their spots more and realize how to have an impact on the game while saving their body a little more.

Gil will always be a scorer, but scoring a little less and letting the offense develop a little more would seem to be the goal. I don't think any point guard is going to lead the legue in assists while running the Princeton.

If you look at Daniels assist numbers they are similar to Arenas's, it's just not how that offense works. But I'd hope Gil has watched and studied the team while he's down and will learn to trust his team mates and the offense a little more then in the past.

Time will tell...

Posted by: GM | August 26, 2008 7:53 AM

Gilby's bread and butter is shooting, shooting, and shooting. That's how he got his contract and how he will try to sell himself as an elite player.

The first 5 games of last season don't mean anything. Gilby had no wheels, and was forced to do something out of character, which was to try to share the ball.

And please, let's not get too excited seeing Gilby share the ball. That's his job.

BTW, Kevin Duckworth dead at 44.

Posted by: DC Man88 | August 26, 2008 10:51 AM

Wiz could have used this guy!!!

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3553531

Posted by: DC Man88 | August 26, 2008 11:00 AM

RIP 00

Posted by: RH | August 26, 2008 1:04 PM

"Gilby's bread and butter"

Posted by: DC Man88 | August 26, 2008 10:51 AM

Nice quote DCMan, I like it. You're right because Gilbert has the Bread, and he's as smooth as butter.

Posted by: The other Lisa | August 26, 2008 1:19 PM

"Nice quote DCMan, I like it. You're right because Gilbert has the Bread, and he's as smooth as butter.

Posted by: The other Lisa | August 26, 2008 1:19 PM "

Lisa....you want so bad to be Mrs. Gilby Arenas don't you? You said you are personal friends with him. Are you tight with Laura also?

Posted by: DC Man88 | August 26, 2008 3:08 PM

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