Day 3 Men: ARG 82 - CHN 57
Argentina beats China by 25
ATHENS - Argentina bounced back from its first loss in the Olympic Men's Basketball competition to thoroughly dominate China on the way to a 82-57 victory at a sold out Helliniko Indoor Arena on Thursday night.
Argentina now sits at 2-1, alone in second place of Group A, while China is 1-2 along with three other teams who are vying for two quarterfinal spots.
The Argentines put on a clinic of cutting and passing to get around China centre YAO Ming, all 2.26 metres of him, and make 66 per cent of their two-point shots, most very close to the basket.
Andres NOCIONI (ARG) paced the winners with 17 points. Luis SCOLA (ARG) added 15 and Emanuel GINOBILI (ARG) 14.
Argentina decided that the best way to deal with YAO, who had 39 points in his previous game, was to not let him see the ball. Using fullcourt pressure and superior quickness, the Argentines forced 15 turnovers from China in the first half alone, converting most of them into a 20-point halftime lead.
After having trailed by just 22-14 in the first quarter, China went eight minutes of the second with just a basket and was facing a 41-21 scoreboard at the break.
That lead dropped into the teens only briefly, then reached a high of 29 early in the fourth quarter.
YAO finished with 15 points, but almost half of them came in that final quarter, long after the game was decided. LIU Wei added 10 for China.
Argentina meets New Zealand on Saturday with a chance to assure advancement to the quarterfinals. China tries to regroup to face Italy.
Emanuel GINOBILI, guard (ARG)
On the game:
"We managed to double-team YAO from the beginning and we didn't let him to take the ball and score. We pressed a lot in defense, we made lots of steels and we had the chance to run in the fast break and score easy baskets. We finished the game from the first half and now we are thinking our next game against New Zealand, a team which can be very difficult if we aren't concetrated."
On the competition's level in Group A:
"It' a very tough bracket. Spain has the advantage for the first place. I was surprised from Serbia & Montenegro's loss against New Zealand, but also from how easy we won tonight against the Chinese team. It's a team that can reach all boundries if YAO plays good and the outside players shoot the ball well from the perimeter."
|Press conference quotes:|
Carlos DELFINO, Guard (ARG)
"It was very important to win this game, and we did, achieving a good point margin as well. We played good defense, and we are confident for the games to follow."
YI Jianlian, Center (CHN)
"We came here to compete and win games, not just to gain experience. We played well for two games, but today we were not good offensively and lost too many rebounds. We didn't do a lot of teamwork, and have to concentrate on this for the upcoming games. I am a little nervous about my first Olympic appearance, it's true."
Ruben MAGNANO, Head Coach (ARG)
"We played a good game and our defense was excellent. We knew that YAO (Ming) is China's number one offensive weapon, and in addition they have some good perimeter shooters. We tried our best to stop YAO. China did not get a good outside shooting percentage, and we were able to run the floor and come up with an important win. I don't want to speculate on what will happen in the next round. I'd rather leave it all aside and concentrate in my work. Pepe SANCHEZ's injury is not a serious one; he just received a blow on the thigh and could play today, but the score gave us an opportunity to save him for the next games."
Del HARRIS, Head Coach (CHN)
"Congratulations to Argentina, they played well on both ends of the floor. I guess we don't play well against Spanish-speaking teams. I told my players to put the game behind them and look on to the next one. We have to get two wins to go to the next round, so we still have a chance. We have to bounce well after this loss, as we did after the loss to Spain. Tonight Argentina outplayed ust totally, but let's not forget that this is Argentina, a team doing well in international competition, with three players playing for years together in the same team in Spain, three players ready to play in the NBA and one that has also played in the NBA in the past. China will keep this nucleus and with the addition of some good 18 or 19-year-old players they will be able to achieve things as teams like Spain, Argentina, New Zealand or Lithuania have. I have to say that our shooters are much better than they showed in this tournament. If you could see our practices you would understand."
Source: Athens news service