London 2012, Prelim Round: Aug 4

GROUP A
Tunisia 69-73 France
Nando De Colo - France (Photo: FIBA)France advanced to the Olympic Quarterfinals by downing Tunisia 69-73 in Group A on Saturday. France will finish second in Group A if it beats Nigeria on Monday. Meanwhile, Tunisia dropped to 0-4 and is out of chances to reach the Quarterfinals. Tony Parker led the winners with 22 points. Nicolas Batum added 19 while Kevin Seraphin had 10 for France. Mohamed Hadidine had 20 points for Tunisia while Makram Ben Romdhane added 17 and 8 rebounds. A huge dunk by Eurocup champion Mickael Gelabale of BC Khimki, an outstanding Parker and a couple of baskets by Batum allowed France to get an early lead, 4-11. France found a new go-to guy in Seraphin but Ben Romdhane and Mourad El Mabrouk kept Tunisia within 15-20 after 10 minutes. A three-point play by Ben Romdhane brought Tunisia even closer, 22-23. Tunisia had several chances to take the lead but Parker stepped up with a layup and a great assist to Seraphin to give France some fresh air, 25-31. Parker and Seraphin stayed on fire to lead Les Bleus to a 27-35 edge at halftime. A three-pointer by Batum made it a double-digit game, 27-38, right after the break. A three-point play by Gelabale soon boosted his team’s margin to 35-50. Tunisia managed to get within 57-64 with under 6 minutes left but Batum and Eurocup champion Nando De Colo stepped up in crunch time to keep France out of trouble until the final buzzer.

Lithuania 94-99 USA
Lebron James - USA (Photo: FIBA)USA had to battle hard to defeat Lithuania 94-99 to all but mathematically win Group A on Saturday. USA improved to 4-0 and got closer to clinch first place while Lithuania dropped to 1-3 and needs to beat Tunisia on Wednesday in order to reach the Quarterfinals. Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony led the winners with 20 points apiece. Kevin Durant added 16 while Deron Williams had 12 for USA. Former All-Euroleague forward Linas Kleiza led Lithuania with 23 points. Marty Pocius of Real Madrid added 14 with Darius Songaila had 11 for Lithuania, that led 84-82 with 5:50 left. USA had a strong start and a three-pointer by Durant gave his team a 4-12 lead. Kleiza and a three-pointer by All-Eurocup guard Ronnie Seibutis kept Lithuania within 9-12. Lithuania kept finding open looks, as a triple by Kleiza and a layup by Songaila made it a two-point game, 18-20. Williams nailed an off-balance triple and Anthony copied him with a buzzer-beating shot from downtown to give USA a 25-33 lead after 10 minutes. Durant and James Harden soon gave USA its first double-digit margin, 27-39. Paulius Jankunas of Zalgiris stepped up for Zalgiris and three-pointers by Lokomotiv Kuban forward Simas Jasaitis and Pocius brought Lithuania within 42-47. A free throw by Kleiza fixed the halftime score at 51-55. Four-time Euroleague champion Sarunas Jasikevicius of FC Barcelona Regal downed a three-pointer that completed the Lithuanian comeback, 56-55, right after the break. James and Durant stepped up for USA in a 0-7 run that pur their team back ahead, 56-62. Lithuania didn’t panic, however, and a 6-0 run that Jankunas capped with a dunk tied it again at 67-67. Russell Westbrook and Anthony allowed USA to get a 72-78 edge after 30 minutes. An outstanding Pocius and a big triple by Kleiza made Lithuania regain the lead, 82-80, with 7 minutes left. Three-pointers by Chris Paul, James and Williams allowed USA to take the lead for good, 88-95, with less than 3 minutes to go. James stayed on fire, allowing USA to cruise to a difficult win.

Nigeria 79-93 Argentina
Andres Nocioni - Argentina (Photo: FIBA)Argentina became the third team to reach the Olympic Quarterfinals in Group A by downing Nigeria 79-93 on Saturday night. Argentina improved to 3-1 and could even win Group B if it beats USA and France loses or if it beats USA by at least 18 points and France wins. Argentina will be third if it loses, regardless of other scores. Nigeria dropped to 1-3 but will reach the Quarterfinals if it beats France and Tunisia downs Lithuania. Luis Scola led the winners with 22 points. Carlos Delfino added 18, Andres Nocioni of Caja Laboral had 17 while former Euroleague winner got 13 for Argentina. Ike Diogu had 16 points for Nigeria while Derrick Obasohan added 15. Tony Skinn and Obasohan scored early to give Nigeria a 5-4 lead. It didn’t last long, however, as a 0-7 run that Delfino capped with a triple made Argentina get a 5-11 edge. Nocioni followed a triple with a layup-plus-foul and even when Diogu kept scoring fluently, Ginobili and Scola fueled a 0-9 run that boosted the Argentinian lead to 16-30. A corner triple by Nocioni and a fast break dunk by Delfino made it an 18-point game, 19-37, after 10 minutes. Nocioni buried another triple and Leo Gutierrez struck twice from downtown to break the game open, 24-50, midway through the second quarter. Chamberlain Oguchi and Ekene Ibekwe brought Nigeria a bit closer, 37-57, at halftime. Diogu and Al-Farouq Aminu got Nigeria within 48-63 but Scola, Delfino and Nocioni stepped up to keep Argentina way out of trouble, 57-76, at the end of the third quarter. Nigeria did not give up but Argentina sealed the outcome minutes before the final buzzer.

GROUP B
Russia 77-74 Spain
Anton Ponkrashov - Russia (Photo: FIBA)Russia became the Group B champion by edging Spain 77-74 on Saturday. Russia improved to 4-0 and won Group A due to its wins against Spain and Brazil, who will battle for the second spot in a big showdown on Wednesday. Vitaly Fridzon of BC Khimki led the winners with 24 points. Anton Ponkrashov of CSKA Moscow added 14 while former All-Euroleague forward Viktor Khryapa of CSKA and Timofey Mozgov each had 12 for Russia. Pau Gasol led Spain with 20 points. His brother Marc and former Euroleague Rising Star Rudy Fernandez each added 10 for Spain. The Gasol brothers and former All-Euroleague guard Sergio Llull of Real Madrid shined early, as Spain dominated in both ends of the floor to get a 2-20 margin. Ponkrashov and Fridzon downed back-to-back three-pointers to give Russia some hope, 11-22. Former Euroleague MVP Juan Carlos Navarro of FCB Regal took over late in the first quarter to boost the Spanish lead to 11-28 at the end of the first quarter. Alexey Shved and Ponkrashov kept trying to change things for Russia, leading a 6-0 run that brought their team within 17-28. Former All-Euroleague swingman Fernando San Emeterio and Sergio Rodriguez of Real Madrid stepped up for Spain to keep their team out of trouble, 20-36. A driving layup by Fridzon, however, made Spain call timeout at 28-38. Khryapa sank three consecutive triples to bring Russia back to life and Fridzon completed the Russian comeback, 51-47, after a 9-0 run. A three-pointer by Ponkrashov helped his team to stay ahead, 56-53, after 30 minutes. Navarro, Rodriguez and Real Madrid forward Felipe Reyes shined in crunch time and a jumper by Marc Gasol made it a nine-point game, 60-69, with over 4 minutes left. Russia got within 70-71 on a rainbow jumper by Ponkrashov in the next-to-last minute. Pau Gasol scored in the low post but a three-pointer by Khryapa tied it at 73-73. Fernandez missed from downtown and dunk by Mozgov restored a 73-75 Russian lead with 18.2 seconds to go. Pau Gasol drew a foul but missed his first attempt, Fridzon drew and foul and made free throws at the other end and Spain could not shot in the game’s final possession, allowing Russia to celebrate a big win.

China 59-98 Brazil
Tiago Splitter - Brazil (Photo: FIBA)Brazil set a do-or-die showdown against Spain for second place in Group B by thrashing China 59-98 on Saturday. Brasil went up to 3-1 and faces Spain on Wednesday in a direct fight to be second. China dropped to 0-4 and may run out of chances to advance at the end of this round. Marquinhos Vieira Sousa led the winners with 14 points. Leandrinho Barbosa and Guilherme Giovannoni each added 13, former All-Euroleague center Tiago Splitter had 12 while Marcelinho Machado got 10 for Brazil. Fangyu Zhu had 13 points for China while Jianghua Chen added 10. Brazil found its big men, Splitter and former Euroleague champion Anderson Varejao, for easy baskets in the early going. A fast break layup by Splitter allowed Brazil to get a 2-9 lead. China kept struggling to score and a wide open three-pointer by Giovannoni made it a double-digit game, 4-14. Barbosa struck twice from downtown and Vieira Sousa added his own shot from beyond the arc to break the game open, 9-25, at the end of the first quarter. China could not get Yi Jianlian involved. Meanwhile, a fast break basket by Larry Taylor made it a 20-point game, 11-31. Machado joined the three-point shootout and Giovannoni gave Brazil a 13-36 margin, enough to keep a 21-42 edge at halftime. China could not find the way to the basket, as Splitter and Barbosa boosted the Brazilian lead to 23-49. Jianlian found his first points midway through the third quarter but Brazil extended its margin to 38-70 after 30 minutes and kept rolling throughout the fourth quarter to get a very comfortable win.

Great Britain 75-106 Australia
Joe Ingles - Australia (Photo: FIBA)Australia made it to the Olympic Quarterfinals by topping Great Britain 75-106 in Group B on Saturday. Australia improved to 2-3, will be fourth in Group B regardless of other scores and will most likely face the United States of America in the Quarterfinals. Great Britain dropped to 0-4 and will look for a prestigious win against China on Wednesday. Patty Mills led the winners with a tournament-high 39 points. Three-time Euroleague champion David Andersen added 13, Joe Ingles of FC Barcelona Regal had 11 while Aron Baynes of Union Olimpija got 10 for the Boomers. Joel Freeland led Great Britain with 16 points while Daniel Clark added 14. Pops Mensah-Bonsu of Maccabi Electra and Drew Sullivan fueled a 6-0 opening run to get the home crowd going. Ingles and Andersen stepped up for the Boomers and Mills followed consecutive baskets with a triple to keep Australia within 12-11. Mills stayed on fire but Great Britain found a go-to guy in Clark, who struck three times from downtown to boost his team’s lead to 25-16. Baynes fixed the score at 25-18 after 10 minutes. Baynes kept pacing Australia and singlehandedly brought the Boomers within 27-24. A three-pointer by Brad Newley made it a three-point game, 31-28. Luol Deng and Mensah-Bonsu, however, led an 11-0 run that that boosted the hosts’ lead to 42-28. Mills and Ingles brought Australia within 46-36 at halftime. A three-pointer by Freeland broke the game open, 51-36, right after the break. Matt Dellavedova and Mills combined for 22 points in a 4-24 run gave the Boomers the lead, 55-60. Clark singlehandedly kept Great Britain within 60-66 after three quarters. Andersen, Ingles and an unstoppable Mills took over early in the fourth quarter, as Australia used a 0-18 run to seal the outcome, 60-84, and seal its ticket to the Quarterfinals.

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